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Formats
Paperback Details
  • 10/2021
  • B09FKKTG5Q
  • 614 pages
  • $17.95
Pamela Records
Author
Trapped in Glass
Pam Records, author
Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, two Polish sisters, Halina and Patcja, are tangled in bootlegger feuds and their own Old Country roots. Patcja runs The Corner, selling whiskey and escape. Halina patches up the broken results using Old Country cures--with a mix of stolen hospital medicine and imported poppy tonic. When a detective with mysterious motives begins delving into buried secrets, the stakes become higher. Whiskey wars escalate, and Patcja's 10-year-old son is injured in a street fight. Halina must use her healing skills--and faith--to save him. But the injury proves to be Halina's most challenging case, forcing her to address her own deep wounds before she can save the others she cares about.
Reviews
The sequel to the accomplished ­­­­Tied With Twine, Records’s epic Trapped in Glass returns readers to Hegewisch, the Polish neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side at the tail end of the roaring 1920s. Again investing vivid life into a milieu of kielbasa, gulumpki, and bootleg hooch in milk and Purex bottles, Records picks up the story of Halina, a young nurse’s aid as steeped in Old Country healing as she is in modern medicine, and her community as Hegewisch faces increasing threats and violence from Chicago’s gangsters. Pacja, Halina’s sister, runs the local tavern and faces trouble from “the Organization”—trouble that her 10-year-old son elects to handle on his own. Meanwhile, Stach, the newsstand proprietor who serves as something of the community’s memory, discovers that a detective is digging into secrets that Hegewisch would prefer stay buried.

The past looms large in this gripping sequel, as Records understands that people whose lives might seem like history to us were themselves shaped (and sometimes caught up in) what happened before, even long ago. Despite the urgent drama of the novel’s present—which includes shocking confrontations and Halina’s efforts to heal someone close to her—Records’s adult Poles are plagued by flashbacks and powerful memories of life before the States and of an earlier Chicago, too. This makes them feel uncommonly alive and relatable: scratch their present, and Poland or a decades-old job working at the Hawthorne Hotel bleed through.

That richness can slow the narrative momentum, but readers who share Records’s interest in immigrant communities, arresting character portraits, and the minds and language of the people of the past (“She looked silly, all dolled up like she was going to a wake for a saint. She had that floozy paint on her mouth,” one man thinks) will find this lengthy novel rewarding. It’s even, in its unhurried way, a page turner, with life-or-death stakes and plenty of swaggering gangsters. It stands alone, though Tied With Twine is recommended.

Takeaway: A stellar historical novel, set among Chicago’s Polish community and the gangland violence of the 1920s.

Great for fans of: Meyer Levin’s The Old Bunch, Aleksander Hemon’s The Lazarus Project.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 10/2021
  • B09FKKTG5Q
  • 614 pages
  • $17.95

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