Though already an award-winning cook, Alexandria author Leslie Pietrzyk couldn’t produce a passable pierogi until she sought the help of her grandmother. Inspired to research her heritage, she ended up with her debut novel, Pears on a Willow Tree. The title comes for an aphorism about searching for something unattainable, but Pietrzyk has found a way to render the disparate voices of four generations of women by dividing the novel into vignettes, most with one of the four as first-person narrator, with a few shared between them. It’s like looking at another family’s photo album, with different members wandering in and out to annotate the snaps. Think of Pears as a kind of Polish-American Joy Luck Club if you must, but listen to its author’s sophisticated voice(s) first when she reads at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 3651 Jefferson Davis Highway, Alexandria. Free. (703) 299-9124. (Daniel Searing)