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Hoopi Shoopi Donna Paperback – May 1, 1997

4.4 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Polka favorite Hupaj Siupaj Dana sounds like "Hoopi Shoopi Donna," and Donna Mileweski identifies with it. At 14 her life is wonderful. She has her parents and grandmother, two best friends, and her accordion. Then her father adopts Betty, his six-year-old niece from Poland. Everything changes, especially after an accident, falsely blamed on Donna, cripples Betty. Donna's life turns to ashes, and Betty becomes a hero and a celebrity. The girls barely speak, Papa changes, and there is no more music in Donna's life. Years pass, and Betty becomes a doctor, marries, and has a baby while Donna languishes. In her late thirties, Donna goes back to her music, and what happens is joy. Shea (Selling the Lite of Heaven, LJ 5/15/94) has written a warm story about a Polish American community that captures the agonies and ecstasies of ordinary and extraordinary family life. Highly recommended.?Barbara Maslekoff, Ohioana Lib., Columbus
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A worthy follow-up (titled after the American pronunciation of a Polish polka) to Shea's promising debut (Selling the Lite of Heaven, 1994); again, the author captures the spirit of an insular Polish-Catholic community and homes in on one unforgettable family. Donna Milewski is a relatively content 14-year-old--until her parents decide to adopt her cousin, six-year-old Elzbieta--the daughter of Donna's father's brother, who can no longer support his family back in Poland. Donna is ambivalent about the newcomer (called Betty in Massachusetts), but when Betty follows Donna on her first date and gets them both hit by an out-of-control truck, her happy existence abruptly ends. In the accident's aftermath, Donna gets blamed for being irresponsible, Betty--thought to have saved Donna--becomes a heroine, and the media goes crazy over the brave immigrant child who risked all to save her new ``sister,'' even giving the Milewskis a new home. No one bothers to ask Donna what happened (and she can't speak for six weeks, her broken jaw wired shut), so it's never discovered that it was Donna who saved Betty--and no one believes her when she later tries to explain. Meanwhile, Donna's father immediately transfers all his affections to Betty--for reasons unexplained. Although both girls recover physically, once Donna graduates from high school she moves out of her parents' house and never speaks to her father again. It will take his death--and an all-girl polka band she forms on an old friend's suggestion--before she can finally come to terms with her father, Betty, the accident, and a romance that's been waiting right next door. Until the ludicrous finale, when Betty's sister Aniela, a Donna look-alike from Poland, appears and offers a highly implausible rationale for Donna's father's inexcusable behavior, this is a sometimes rollicking, sometimes heartbreaking, effectively quirky read. (Author tour; radio satellite tour) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (May 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671535455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671535452
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,138,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are many good and even wonderful things about this book, its subject, the story, the characters, the humor. And there are many that are purely irritating: the oppressive length of the novel, the endless statements, and the bizarre and most likely often untrue descriptions of some of the Polish-American things (do they really eat "crepes with brains"???). The truly major and unfortunate issue is the writing itself. The book contains such labyrinthine writing that one page often fits no more than four statements. One gets lost in this endless ocean of words. Only the truly committed to Polish-Americans will last to the end....
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Format: Paperback
When I read this book back in 1996,I liked it SO much,I purchased SEVEN copies and put a note in the frontis(sp?) page telling that the one who received this book he or she HAD to give it to someone else to read...I have NEVER received the books back(and YES,my name and address WAS in each) so it is my HOPE that those books have since traveled the world..I ALSO contacted OPRAH"S book club about choosing this book to read........it needs MORE publicity..but i DO believe I've done MY part!!
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Format: Paperback
I was knocked out by how wonderful this book was. I literally could not stop reading it until I finished it. Suzanne Shea has a wonderful feel for 2d and 3rd generation Polish-Americans (of which I am one) and it makes for a delightfully original setting. The family dynamics were heartbreakingly true to life, especially in the Polish-American culture. But you don't have to be Polish to enjoy the great writing and vivid characters.
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Format: Hardcover
Very touching story of a young girl and her doting family.
Donna's days are filled with dinners prepared by her loving Babci (Grandma), dresses and outfits made by her talented mother, and evenings of playing her accordion for her proud father. But when a poor little cousin from Poland, Betty, is adopted by the family, Donna begins to lose the attention and affection of her father.
A misunderstanding causes a dreadful split that Donna never recovers from. She becomes the selfish teenager while Betty becomes the selfless victim. Donna, once high achieving and dutiful becomes mediocre (working as a quality inspector in a tampon factory--love it!) and estranged as Betty thrives and flourishes from her father's love.
Reconciliation comes late--but not too late for Donna. Through music and the polka, the music of the accordian, she finds forgiveness.
While I found the ending confusing (why did Donna drop Joseph Angello even when she knew he hadn't lied to her?), it did cause me to think. It wasn't a pat ending.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished reading Hoopi Shoopi Donna in October, 2001, although it was written in '96. Found it on a clearance shelf in a local drugstore and was attracted by the title and cover. What a great find! It was written with the kind of humor I enjoy. Just a daily take on everday life and relationships. I found the Polish family traditions interesting but the relationships were "every family." Donna's thoughts were so honest, even though she admitted herself they were not always kind. She knew she was being unpleasant at times but felt it was her right. Boy, I've felt that many times!
I am in a book club in my area and can't wait for my turn to host and choose the book... as I already know my selection. This definitely needs to be discussed with others.
The only adverse thing I can think of is my sympathy for the nice guys who always got dumped led me to being very frustrated with Donna. She's comes around at the end. Never have I considered reading a book twice... but this may be the one.
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Format: Hardcover
Hoopi Shoopi Donna is one of the most enjoyable and engaging books I've read in a very long time. The characters are beautifully drawn and the story is symbolic of every rift we have with life at one point or another, and the journey that the lucky ones are able to make back to hope and peace. This is an extraordinary novel.
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Format: Hardcover
Loved this book- a must for any babyboomer from an ethnic background in 70's Massachusetts- a moving depiction of a daughter's search for her fathers approval fraught with sibling interference and classic coming-of-age dilemmas- if your Grandma is Polish, you'll love this!
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Format: Paperback
Being of Polish descent and a lifelong New England resident myself, I could relate to the joys and traumas of Donna's life all too well. It's hard being the first American, when your parents stubbornly insist on keeping one foot in old-country ways.

Nonetheless, young Donna's life is happy enough, especially with her loving grandmother, Babci, living just next door in the family's duplex. Then her father decides to bring his little niece, Betty, over from Poland, and Donna's life changes forever.

No longer the apple of her parents' eye, Donna is resentful of the attention little Betty garners. Then tragedy strikes, and Donna finds herself a permanent outcast in her own family, with Betty there to pick up the slack.

Because of that fateful day, the two girls' lives are permanently set. Beloved Betty goes on to become successful in every aspect of her life, while Donna, existing in the shadows, is subjected to a mediocre existence. As the years pass, Donna realizes that the events of that long-ago day don't define who she is as a person, and what she needs and deserves from life. It's up to her to strike out into the world, and make things right.

This was the first book of Suzanne Strempek Shea's that I had ever read, and it made me instantly fall in love with her writing. Since then, I have read several others, and I feel they all maintain that same level of literary brilliance.

To read one of Shea's books is to step fully into the universe she has depicted, and to walk among new friends and faces.
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