The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

the boston girl
The Boston Girl
Anita Diamant


The Boston Girl is a light story about Addie Baum, a young girl growing up in Boston during the early 1900s. The book begins in 1985 as Addie tells her story to her adult granddaughter, Ava. It has a casual feel, as if the two were sitting in Addie’s living room and this makes it easy to read.

Addie’s parents are Jewish immigrants from Russia and they struggle with the usual challenges of earning a living, assimilating into a new country and raising three daughters. Addie is the youngest daughter and an independent thinker. Her oldest sister Betty has boldly left home to find some fun. Middle sister Celia is frail and troubled and their mother frets she will never find a husband. Addie wants more out of life. She is smart, loves to read and continuously locks horns with her mother over what’s proper and expected for a young teenage girl.

She finds her way by connecting with prominent female do-gooders who help pave her way and introduce her to the world of literature, education and career-oriented women.

The Boston Girl is an adult story, but it has a simple presentation and vocabulary and reads more like young historical fiction. The characters are a little plain and, even though there are many adult situations and some innuendo, many of the major players are wholesome helpers, making it seem as if Addie is being protected by a guardian angel. And while Addie’s love life has its ups and downs, it’s not much of a surprise to see her meet the man of her dreams.

There is plenty of heartbreak in The Boston Girl, but the chapters are short and the characters lack a certain depth that would make these events realistic. World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic wreak havoc, but these references have an over and done feel and seem to be forgotten in the next chapter.

I enjoyed reading The Boston Girl, but I was expecting something different. It was mildly interesting, with many references to Boston, historical events and important social causes, especially women’s rights, education and child labor laws. But for me, the story’s preachy feel made it a little boring.

The Boston Girl was not my favorite, but I loved The Red Tent and I’m willing to try another of Diamant’s novels.

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What’s up next? The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant

the boston girlI’m looking forward to getting started on The Boston Girl, Anita Diamant’s latest book!

The Boston Girl is a story about Addie Baum, daughter of immigrant parents during the early 1900s. Here is the book description, from Anita Diamant’s website:

“The Boston Girl is a coming-of-age story about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End –at the time a teeming multicultural neighborhood—Addie’s intelligence and curiosity lead 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.

Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. 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, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

She remembers staying at Rockport Lodge, a sort of “fresh air fund” resort located in a seaside town north of Boston, where she makes friends, who are part of a life that spans World War I, the influenza epidemic, and the Great Depression.

Written with attention to historical detail and emotional honesty, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

Anita Diamant Photo Credit:  Gretje Fergeson
Anita Diamant
Photo Credit: Gretje Fergeson

Anita Diamant is an American author of fiction and nonfiction. She was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1951 and lived in Newark, New Jersey as a young girl and later in Denver, Colorado.  She earned a degree in literature from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master’s in American Literature from Binghamton University in upstate New York.  In 1975, Diamant moved to Boston and began her writing career as a journalist. She initially wrote for local magazines and newspapers and later for national media. Her first book published was the handbook, The New Jewish Wedding, and she followed that with five other guidebooks to Jewish life. She wrote her first work of fiction, The Red Tent, in 1997, which was honored by the Independent Booksellers Alliance in 2001 as the “Booksense Best Fiction of the Year.” In addition to The Red Tent and The Boston Girl, Diamant is the author of three novels: Good Harbor (2001), The Last Days of Dogtown (2005), and Day After Night (2009).

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Coma by Robin Cook

Robin Cook


There are certain traditions that go hand-in-hand with going to a beach house. Hair dryers and make-up stay in the bag. Socks are rarely worn. Meals are casual. Maybe you do a little crabbing or fishing, take the kids to play mini-golf and, of course, you go to the beach.

You might already have a book to read on the beach or maybe you do what I sometimes do: take your chances and see what’s on the shelf at the house, a beach house library with a crazy mix of reading options. My choices this year included Gone with the Wind, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, a couple popular mysteries and my ultimate selection, Coma, by Robin Cook.

If you were around in the seventies, you might remember the cover, a naked body hanging from wires like a creepy marionette. This book quickly became a best-seller and was named “the #1 medical thriller of the year” by the New York Times.

Susan Wheeler is a third-year medical student and has just begun a surgical rotation at Boston Memorial Hospital. On her very first day, she senses that something very strange is going on. Perfectly healthy patients, in for routine operations, are falling into irreversible comas. Susan is smart, beautiful and persistent and she’s determined to get to the bottom of this disturbing medical situation. She uses her brains, female charm and dancer’s athleticism to access files, request computer searches, crawl through recessed ceilings and run from the bad guys.

I enjoyed reading Coma. Its easy style and fast-moving plot carry the story, despite its dated feel and superficial characters. You have to read a book like this with a certain anything goes attitude. Unrealistic coincidences abound, characters are a bit stereo-typed and the dialogue is pretty wooden, but the plot eventually takes off and the action and suspense rule in the second half.

There is a great deal of medical jargon, but don’t worry if you’re not a doctor. Since the author is also an MD, I’m sure these descriptions are legit and they add credibility to the story.

Susan gets herself into a lot of trouble, first with various hospital executives and doctors and later with some dangerous characters. The suspense continues to the last page and ends with a little ambiguity, enough to make you just a little bit scared.

I think I made a good choice. The cover fell off half-way through and of course it got wet and sandy at the beach, but that’s part of the fun of a beach-house read, isn’t it?

Robin Cook
Robin Cook

Robin Cook is a best-selling author of twenty-eight medical thrillers, including Mindbend, Blindsight, and Contagion. Cook says that he writes thrillers because they give him “an opportunity to get the public interested in things about medicine that they didn’t seem to know about.” His most recent book, Cell, was published in 2014.

Coma was published in 1977 and was made into a popular movie in 1978, written and directed by Michael Crichton.  It stars Geniviѐve Bujold and Michael Douglas.

Coma was also made into a 2012 TV miniseries on A&E, starring Lauren Ambrose, Steven Pasquale and Geena Davis.

Check out these additional links for information about Robin Cook:

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Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

make way for ducklings

Make Way for Ducklings
Written and illustrated
Robert McCloskey

Awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1941

I’m not sure when we first started checking this book out at the library, but it quickly became another one of my favorites. It’s a simple story about Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, who settle in Boston to raise a family. Mrs. Mallard causes quite a stir when she leads her eight ducklings through the streets of Boston, across town to meet Mr. Mallard on the pond in the Public Garden!

This is a wonderful picture book for little children and for young elementary school kids. The illustrations are great, and they complement McCloskey’s warm and humorous story. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard aptly name their cute ducklings Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and, of course, Quack and the way they scamper through the pages will make you smile.

Here’s one of my favorite pictures from the book, but they’re all great!

How cute!

Make Way for Ducklings was published in 1941 and received the Caldecott Medal in the same year. Despite the years, I think the appeal of this book is timeless.

Robert McCloskey
Robert McCloskey

Robert McCloskey (1914-2003)

Robert McCloskey was an American writer and illustrator of children’s books. He was the first person to be awarded the Caldecott Medal twice, once in 1941 for Make Way for Ducklings, and also in 1957 for Time of Wonder.

McCloskey was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio. Before becoming an artist, he had a great many interests. He studied music and played the piano, harmonica, drums and oboe. He loved mechanics and electronics and spent a lot of time as a child inventing different gadgets, including elaborate lightings for the family Christmas tree. He discovered art in high school and won a scholarship at the Vesper George School of Design in Boston. McCloskey also studied art at the National Academy of Design in New York. McCloskey wrote and illustrated eight of his own books, and illustrated twelve additional children’s books.

He married Peggy Durand, daughter of the children’s author, Ruth Sawyer. They settled in upstate New York and spent summers in Maine and raised two daughters.

Books by Robert McCloskey:

Lentil (1940)
Make Way for Ducklings (1941) Caldecott Medal
Homer Price (1943)
Blueberries for Sal (1948) Caldecott Honor
Centerburg Tales (1951)
One Morning in Maine (1952) Caldecott Honor
Time of Wonder (1957) Caldecott Medal
Burt Dow, Deep Water Man (1963)

Thanks to Wikipedia and the The New York Times for this information.

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