Breaking the Mold
An immigrant story with a feminist twist
Best-selling novelist Anita Diamant definitely has a shtick. Luckily, it’s one that we’ll always be able to get behind: giving a voice to women who haven’t historically had one.
Diamant has spoken for biblical figures (The Red Tent) and Holocaust survivors (Day After Night). And in her latest, The Boston Girl, she introduces us to Addie Baum, a plucky immigrant girl growing up smart and curious at a time when girls were supposed to be anything but.
Born in 1900 to Russian Jews, Addie is expected to bring two things home to her parents: money, from the factory job she was forced to quit school to take, and grandchildren, as soon as she finds a suitable (read: Jewish) man to marry.
But Addie is not to be deterred. She joins a reading club at the local settlement house, forms powerful friendships with other forward-thinking immigrant girls, summers at a progressive women’s inn and turns a secretarial job at a newspaper into a full-time columnist gig. The girl’s got spunk.
The story is told in flashback from an 80-something Addie to her 20-something granddaughter, and that’s exactly what this novel feels like: warm, fascinating family lore.