The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant Book Review

Authors showcase their expertise by writing contents for specific audiences who in the long run appreciate the work of literature differently. After reading a book, every individual gain different experience and expresses dissimilar opinions regarding biases, perspectives of the authors and the general experiences. After reading the historical novel The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, the audience appreciates the author’s attempt to take them through the plight of women in their ancient times yet through a descriptive and in an interesting manner. There are several things for the readers to learn about Boston in general, the story of the era where the main character lived, the class structure of Boston like the portrayal of the Tessa Thorndike and the Brahmins among several things. Again, the book reveals much about the lives of people with the Jewish descent who live in Boston, the multiethnic nature of the North End and a wonderful depiction of the modern woman and generally being a woman in Boston.

That the novel presents a principal protagonist referred to as Addie Baum, a daughter to Jewish immigrants who ran-away from violence and starvation in Russia. The refugee parents settled in Boston in a tiny apartment with four occupants in a single room way back in 1915. This information informs the readers of the poverty-stricken neighborhood in Boston that the immigrant families inhabited for the first time as refugees. The depiction of the poverty level is real when Addie Baum paints the real picture of their tiny house in which all of them lives in with their parents sleeping in saggy couch. The room also had a stove and few chairs and the family mostly fed on cabbages and potatoes to confirm a greater level of poverty in the neighborhood.  Addie experiences a new form of life when the family moves to Roxbury in a boarding house especially now that she contributes to the family income (Diamant 185). The life in the city takes a new turn and makes Addie and Betty think far differently from their parents, something that greatly offends the father in the course of the 20th century.

The novel is a clear revelation of the history of Boston with regard to its culture, political unrest, traditions and way of life. The descriptions in the book reveal how women had little or no say regarding the major decisions in their lives. The community looked down upon women ad barely supported their schooling, meaning that the women in the society had insufficient rights regarding education. Most women had difficulties finishing school. They also worked at low-level jobs and had no voting rights while their parents gave them no chances to decide on the men who were to marry them. At the same time, the novel explicitly gives a description of particular paces and major events in Boston. For instance, the harsh effects of political unrest that became eminent in the World War I affected the lives of individuals adversely because it ended up in the pandemic outbreak of influenza in 1918. Most significantly, the culture of the 20th century entailed child labor like the kind which befell Betty Friedan in the novel ending up affecting Addie Baum too.

Just like any other society in the world, a community encompasses individuals who live in different social classes. The Boston Girl clearly highlights such classes in Boston because of the mention of the Brahmins and the Tessa Thorndike. Initially, Addie Baum is drawn to the Tessa Thorndike class of people. Apparently, she is not afraid to poke fun at her very own social class where education for girls or women meant a lot not only to a specific family but to the entire community. When Diamant is speaking about the Brahmins and the Tessa Thorndike, she is referring to the striking difference that comes in regarding the social nature of a community. Here, the author refers to the highest rank of people in the traditional Hindu who live in Boston when she mentions Brahmins. On the other hand, the Tessa Thorndike group refers to the people living at the lower class showing characteristics denoting sheer lack and poverty. Addie’s life differs from the lives of the Tessa Thorndike because of her education level which makes her gain much strength and more power than the ordinary women in the community.

The Boston Girl is a detailed depiction of Jewish life, especially in the early 20th century. The Jewish cultural belief system cuts across all manner of life aspects from their birth to death and mourning. As a young girl, Addie gains interest in reading and joins a reading club for Jewish girls, a stunt that her mother disapproves yet he does gain interest in reading anyway. Being a woman of Jewish origin, Addie’s mother upholds the culture and traditions of the Jewish people and looks down upon the advances that Addie make in life to fight forth rights of women in the community in Boston. Apparently, it is clear that the community opposes any form of cultural development because the magazine company where Addie works fires her after she has received negative critics for publishing articles that fight for the rights of women in the society. According to the author, there is little tremor of life for Addie and other women. It makes a concession of America’s loose culture yet the parents of Addie stick to their own Jewish culture when they speak Yiddish and retain their old traditions which present women as individuals who attain joy when they get married and have children. The Boston people partly accept the Jewish in the novel.

Throughout the nineteenth century, The Boston Girl exposes several aspects like the presence of international communities in the North End which eventually presents a multiethnic community. For instance, Addie is a member of the Saturday Club and also a part of the Mixed Nuts group at a place called Rockport Lodge where the cook called Mrs. Morse acknowledges that the immigrants are nicer than the Americans (Diamant 167). To make this more interesting, Addie makes friends from other nationalities like Filomena who come to Italy and draws a distinction marriage and love (Diamant 289). The immigrants in Boston clearly live miserable lives accompanied by lack with all members of the family struggling to make ends meet by working to pay rent and other bills.

The Boston Girl is a novel that depicts a modern woman living in the early 19th century. The characteristics of the modern woman present to the readers the kind of people who deeply understand their rights in all perspectives. For instance, the modern woman is a feminist activist who has the rights to vote, to read to work and get payment similar to that of men and to engage in the politics of a nation (Diamant 185). Moreover, the modern woman expressively opposes the old traditions regarding the plight and position of women especially the traditions concerning marriage where the women had no voice in choosing their spouses. As a matter of fact, the novel reveals how the mother to Addie opposed her moves of engaging in intense studies, marry the man of her choice and fight for the rights of other individuals. The book literally exposes the struggle between the old and new in terms of traditions and culture bringing up the feeling of otherness.

The book has a distinctive revelation of being a woman in Boston in general. According to the author, it is clear that the plight of a woman takes the center stage because the women are unsure of what awaits them. When Addie gets her first job and writes articles advocating for the rights of women, she gets fired. Secondly, a forward-thinking character in the novel who is a lawyer by profession is uncertain of her future because no one is ready to hire a female lawyer (Diamant 145). Being a woman in Boston meant that there was little that could be done to change the narrative surrounding women in terms of traditions. However, Addie comes in and does tremendous work after putting adequate effort and with the support of her husband to advocate of the rights of women that eventually changes the narrative in the society.


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