Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl is a wonderful coming of age story about a Jewish girl growing up in Boston at the beginning of the 20th century. It’s told from the perspective of Addie Baum when she is old and telling her life-long tale of adventure, woe, determination, and love.
I was excited to read this, but I honestly didn’t have very high expectations, largely because I didn’t think I would be able to relate to the characters or situations as well as I could with other books. I also haven’t been much in the mood to read lately, so I didn’t want to force myself through another book. Reading the first five pages, I thought I was right and might end up trudging through the story, but once I got used to the writing style and to Addie’s voice, I found it to be easy and enjoyable to read. It’s rather fast paced the entire time, and Addie’s unique thought process and experiences as well as her form of story-telling made it fun and exciting to read.
I actually fell in love with this book and its characters, far more than I could’ve imagined. Addie’s determination to experience the world in a different way and to be educated reminded me of myself more than I would’ve dared possible. As I saw her pursue her education and becoming independent, I saw my own failures and successes. I cried with her, I laughed with her, I feared with her, and I cared with her. The amount of simple and blatant emotion that Diamant was able to pack into Addie’s interview with her granddaughter was overwhelmingly well done; and the creative wording, imagery, and simplicity of Addie’s life and way of talking about her life are beautiful and occasionally comical.
I sincerely didn’t want to put this book down or for it to end. From its terribly sad scenes to possibly the best meet cute in history, I was reliving Addie Baum’s life with her, celebrating new jobs, mourning the loss of loved ones, learning about child laborers, and pondering what it means to be oneself.
One of my favourite (many) favourite lines: “I thought I’d never fall asleep, but I was gone the minute I closed my eyes. I guess falling in love makes you tired. Or maybe it was all that walking.”