Addie Baum is a young rebellious girl born to Russian, Jewish immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century. Addie struggles against society and her own family in order to find out what it means to be an American woman. She experiences both triumph and tragedy along the way. The story is told in the first person through Addie’s telling the story of her life to her granddaughter in the 1980’s.
I will start off by saying that I chose to read this novel because Addie’s background is very similar to my late mother-in-law’s. Like Addie she was the children of Russian Jews that immigrated to America at the beginning of the twentieth century. I really wanted to get a sense of what life was like for her.
This was definitely a chapter driven novel. There was little, if any, plot. Even though this is fiction ,the story reads like a really well written memoir. The only exception is the few times when Addie digresses from the story and addresses her granddaughter, Ava, directly.
The ‘Boston Girl’ was very engrossing. I felt as if Addie was telling me the story. I half expected to see her when I looked up from the book. The character development for all the character’s was amazing. A few of the characters even reminded me of some of my own relatives.
Some of the facts in the book were just shocking. For example, I had no idea that very young children in America worked in sweat shops until the late 1930’s. Many immigrants did not make much money so they had to take their young children out of school so that they could work to help the support the family . This often meant a never ending cycle of poverty.
I highly recommend this novel and give it four and half stars. I plan to have my children read it one day so they can see how lucky they are. After just two generations, they live a totally different world then their grandparents and great-grandparents did at their ago.