The Boston Girl is told by 85-year-old Addie, who revisits her long life of memories during an interview given by one of her grandchildren. It’s an incredibly intimate one-sided conversation that completely ensnares the reader. This storytelling style made me feel as if Addie was my grandmother. Like other special books with superb storytelling, The Boston Girl envelopes the reader inside a bubble. While reading it, you feel like you are living the story and your real life is just an inconvenience that exists outside of the bubble.
Addie Baum is both fiercely independent and endearingly reliant on the love and support of her friends and family. She’s never entirely sure what she wants out life, and for most of the book, she could be any teenaged or twenty-something trying to figure out who she is. She is just as surprised as the reader is by each of her revelations. Because she has a couple rotten experiences with men, she becomes leery and standoffish with them. I found it refreshing that she stays level headed and doesn’t succumb to her emotions. Her relationships with her friends and family are complex and meaningful. Hands down, my favorite aspect of The Boston Girl is the colorful array of characters. Each person in this book stands on their own and is just as complex as Addie. My only disappointment was how little time was spent on her years of motherhood in comparison to her years prior to marriage. Because of how well the characters are portrayed I wish I could have known more about Addie's husband and children.
The first time I saw this book, I was immediately drawn to the cover, as I’m sure any reader would be. Though she is sitting on an uncomfortable pier with waves crashing around her, Addie is completely immersed in the book she is reading. This is a testament to the kind of life she lived - giving her undivided attention to her friends, family and personal growth. When you read The Boston Girl, you too, will give Addie's memories your undivided attention. The entire world will disappear, leaving only Addie’s story of growing up in Boston and her journey to find her place in the world.
I both read and listened to this book, and I highly recommend the audiobook as it enhances the conversational storytelling. If you like this book you should check out Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. All three books mirror The Boston Girl's themes of strong women, sisterhood, and growing up with families you both love and can’t stand.