The Boston Girl
by Anita Diamant
Reviewed by Peggy K. Potter, retired Library Director
This is a story of family and friendship but mostly why life is more important than death. It is written from the view of a grandmother, Addie Baum, who, at age 85, tells her life story to her favorite adult grandchild. Addie’s parents were Jewish, Russian immigrants, her father and two older sisters coming in 1896, Her mother came three or four years later. Addie was born in Boston. This family survives the transplant from one country to another and the culture shock that experience brings. They endure World Wars I and II, Prohibition, the Spanish flu epidemic, civil rights, and the sexual revolution. In short, the 20th century.
Some of the situations will feel very foreign to the modern American reader; women fighting for the right to vote, diseases that wipe out whole sections of the population, and parents taking children out of school to help support the family. Addie talks about other situations that will make many readers feel like their own story; the tragedy of mental illness in a family member, and how friendships and religion can enrich our lives. Diamant pays a great deal of attention to historical details and to the changing attitudes of the 20th century. Thrown in are both the joys and sadness of life and love to make this book easy to read and very memorable.