Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant | Book Review

Reading Group: High School+

Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Synopses: New York Times bestseller!
An unforgettable novel about a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century, told “with humor and optimism…through the eyes of an irresistible heroine” (People)—from the acclaimed author of The Red Tent.

Anita Diamant’s “vivid, affectionate portrait of American womanhood” (Los Angeles Times), follows the life of one woman, Addie Baum, through a period of dramatic change. Addie is The Boston Girl, the spirited daughter of an immigrant Jewish family, born in 1900 to parents who were unprepared for America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End of Boston, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, to finding the love of her life, eighty-five-year-old Addie recounts her adventures with humor and compassion for the naïve girl she once was.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world. “Diamant brings to life a piece of feminism’s forgotten history” (Good Housekeeping) in this “inspirational…page-turning portrait of immigrant life in the early twentieth century” (Booklist).

Cover: The cover of this book is simple: a girl reading while sitting on a post in the ocean.  We can assume this woman is supposed to be Addie.

My Review: This book is fiction, but it's written as if a grandmother is telling a story and I think that's why I liked it so much.  I live in Massachusetts, so I really liked reading about how Boston used to be and what it was like growing up there.  The book takes place from 1914-1985, and that is such a unique time for anyone to live through: the end of Industrialization, two World Wars, Korean War, Vietnam War, advancements in technology.  Plus, as significant as all of those things are they don't include the personal things an individual also had to deal with.  Addie has to balance what she wants for herself and what her family expects of her, which I think a lot of people can relate to.  When she was growing up, women were transitioning from just being wives and mothers to having jobs for themselves, so it was hard for her to relate to her mother who didn't understand Addie's independence.  I enjoy historical fiction like this because even though everything seems so different between then and now, they're really not so much.  This work is very big on feminism which is obviously still huge right now and family drama which is an issue then, now, and forever.  I would recommend this book to anyone, but I think you need to be a certain age to fully appreciate it.

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