Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant ~ Book Review

Addie Metsky is 85 years old when her youngest granddaughter interviews her and asks her how she got to be the woman that she is today.  And there starts the story of a young Addie Baum who is 15 years old and growing up in the North End of Boston.  Living  in a one room walk up with her parents and 2 sisters, she was raised by a very strict and superstitious Jewish mother and her hard working Jewish father.  The family are immigrants trying to make it in a better world but not quite prepared for the progressive America.  Out of the 3 living children, Addie was the only one born in the US.  The mom has never moved on from being forced to leave her Polish home and come to America and blames the father for the loss of their other child who died enroute.  They were poor but not starving, in Addie's words.  With everyone chipping in, they made enough for rent and food.  Addie has a natural curiosity and is very smart so against the wishes of her mother, she joins a library group for girls partly so that she can get out of the house and away from her mom who has never shown her any love or acceptance.  She recalls her days at Rockport Lodge where the girls went for a vacation and the lifelong friendships she formed there that helped to shape her life.  As Addie reminisces, she tells the story of her life and what it was like trying to make her way in the early 20th century as a woman, a Jew and an immigrant and as a young girl chafing against the old ways and trying to embrace the new.  She tells of the influences of her first exposure to "love", the influences of her "delicate" sister and her stronger more worldly sister, of her lifelong desire just to have her mother's acceptance.

For some reason, I always really like a good immigrant story.  Maybe it's because my own parents were immigrants and it helps me to relate to everything they might have faced and went through.  I like to read of their hopes and dreams in leaving everything they know and making a journey full of unknowns in the hope for a better life.  The courage that would take is astounding to me.  I enjoyed this story of family, friendships, immigrants, and trying to find one's place in a world of changing times.  Addie was a wonderful character with so many facets to her personality and I felt myself really drawn into her story.  Each character was really well developed which made it seem like I actually knew them.  The heartbreak of the immigrant story of facing total culture shock was very emotional (as my parents were immigrants too) and the contrasts between the mother who refused to change and accept her new country and in turn the child who was born in America and the father and girls of the family trying to find their place in their new world was very well written.  The narrative moves along at a nice pace and I really felt like it was an actual person telling their story which was really nice to me as 1st person narrative is not my favourite choice of story telling.   The story pulls you through every emotion:  pain, sadness, grief, joy, laughter, love and hopefully leaves the reader with hope.

I gave it a 9/10

Reading Challenge Goals Met:  A book set somewhere I always wanted to visit (Boston), a book by an author I've never read before, a book by a famous author,


aspiritofsimplicity said...

It sounds interesting. I am from the Boston area so my interest is piqued.

Deb said...

I think I would like this book too! Thanks for the review.

Faith said...

Loved your review!! I think i gave it a 10 when I reviewed it a couple weeks ago. I LOVED this book and plan on looking for her other books as well. Is she famous?? I had no idea...I just know she has written several now. since I love Boston whole family does for obvious reasons (!!!!!) we highly recommend you come out here for a visit!! and when you do, you MUST let me know as I will meet you! we are only 3-4 hours west of there :)