The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
Digital Audiobook narrated by Linda Lavin
Published by Scribner on August 4th 2015
Genres: Adult, Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction
Length: 336 pages or 7 hours, 39 minutes
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Anita Diamant's vivid, affectionate portrait of American womanhood 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.
I’ve been meaning to read another of Anita Diamant’s books for ages.
I love The Red Tent. It’s one of my top ten favorite books of all time. I’ve read it probably half a dozen times. The book is good. The audiobook is good. Sometimes I stop listening to one book in the middle because I feel the need to listen to The Red Tent again. I would absolutely take that book to a desert island, and if my house was burning down and I could only rescue a handful of books, The Red Tent would be one of them.
That said, The Boston Girl is not better than The Red Tent. But it is just as good.
At first, I was hesitant. I grabbed this book on Audible last March during a sale, figuring “why not? Any Anita Diamant book is fine.” and I’m not sure I even read the description. For the first five minutes, I hated the book. Why was she giving an interview? Is this whole book going to be a dialogue?
It only took until the end of the sixth minute to fall in love with it.
Addie is strong and independent, but she is also foolish and defiant. Her family is unfair to her, and the world she starts out in does not care for women. And yet, you immediately have to admire Addie because she rubs up against the barriers of her world and her culture to carve out her own identity. She falls in love and has her heart broken mercilessly. She sees a guy and doesn’t really feel anything (when does that ever happen in books?! Refreshing!). She falls in love at first sight. She stays in school longer than most poor children did at the time, and even takes night classes when she works. She never, ever apologizes for who she is, and I think that’s difficult even today.
You find yourself quickly drawn into Addie’s world. Your heart breaks when her heart breaks. You’re happy when she’s happy. You are angry when she’s angry. Diamant has a way of looping the reader in emotionally with her characters and you are rooting for them even before you really know them. The narrator, Linda Lavin, does an excellent job of bringing Addie to life. There are times where she grumbles something or laughs and its absolutely like hearing the story of a life from a vivacious elderly woman. Excellent.
Even if you are a hard copy of eBook person, I cannot recommend enough listening to the audiobook of The Boston Girl. The narration adds a whole additional dimension to the story that makes it even grander. As I said, I got my copy on Audible (no affiliation) and you can listen to a sample of the audiobook here if you don’t believe me.