The Boston Girl: A Novel

The Boston Girl: A Novel - Anita Diamant Born in the early 1900’s Addie Baum was the first child in her family to be born in America. She grew up in the North End of Boston … “before it was trendy” … Jewish, poor and in the shadow of her sisters – one the perfect daughter and the other the rebel. Addie spent most of her early years trying to find just where she fit in with her family. As her horizons broaden and she makes multi-cultural friends she finds not only a place for herself, but her own strength as well. The reader is allowed to listen in as Addie, now 85, relates the details of her life to her granddaughter, who is about to graduate from Harvard and be ordained as a Rabbi (“Oh my, if my father were alive to know his great-granddaughter was going to be a Rabbi his head would explode”). This was a time period that still believed a woman’s greatest purpose in life was to get married and have children, but it was also a time period where feminism began to poke its head out publicly and Margaret Sanger tried to give women some control over their own bodies. Women dared to show their ankles and wear trousers. Teaching was no longer the only acceptable profession for a woman UNTIL she got married. Colleges accepted women into previously “male only” curriculums and young ladies did not lose their respectability if they went to work and lived on their own. Massachusetts was deciding whether to give women the right to vote and Child Labor Laws were being written and challenged. Through Addie we learn what it was like to live, not only in an immigrant family, but also as a woman in that time period. Addie’s story is made up of everything that constitutes a real life. She shares the angst of her teen years, the arguments with parents who want to keep things “the old way”, first loves, first heartbreaks, tragedy and happiness. She takes us through the flu epidemic, two world wars and the great depression and she does so with her unique outlook on life and with humor and poignancy.

I chose to listen to this book on audio, read by Linda Lavin. She did an outstanding job as the reader. Her voice was beautifully animated bringing Addie to life. It made me feel as if I was sitting there in a room with her, maybe with a fire going but definitely with a cup of tea, listening intently and not wanting to interrupt. Much credit to both
Ms. Diamant and Ms. Lavin … Addie’s voice was both written and read beautifully.

This book was a delight to read (listen to!). I do most of my audio book listening in the car on the way to and home from work. This was one of those books that I did not want to turn off when I reached my destination. Traffic jams seemed less annoying. Addie would definitely fall into the “cool grandmother” category and I loved her and the book.

On a personal note ... sometimes rating books is really difficult! How can I rate this book with 5 stars and then finish my next read “The Great Zoo of China” and award it 5 stars as well? Two totally different genres and the books couldn’t be more diverse in subject matter yet they both stood strong in their own niche. Meh – Addie was an English student … no doubt, she’d understand and approve and I’ll just have to live with it. LOL