The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant, came up as a recommendation on one of my many booklover sites (I believe it was librarything.com but it could have been goodreads.com). I read The Red Tent a year or two ago and found it gripping and heart-wrenching, so I approached The Boston Girl, by the same author, Anita Diamant, with caution. I thought it was likely that I would love the book but I was afraid of the commitment. Am I the only one who has that problem sometimes? The struggle is real.

Anyways, I buckled down and read The Boston Girl, and it was just as enticing and upsetting as I expected. Addie Baum is an elderly woman dictating the story of her life growing up in Boston to her granddaughter. The third daughter of Jewish immigrants in the early 1900s, her path was a rocky one, but full of sweet memories, love and good friends.

The Boston Girl addresses the struggle of immigrant families, the nuances of growing up Jewish during a tumultuous time, the difficult relationships between mothers and daughters and sisters, the shocking introduction of men and dating for a very naïve young woman, and the pain of loss followed by the warmth of togetherness shared by kindred spirits. If you love books that deal with women’s issues and focus on the feminine, The Boston Girl is a wonderful example…If you think you can handle it. And if you have a box of Kleenex by your bedside. The Boston Girl is not a fun summer vacation read, and not light reading by any standard…But I loved it. And some of you might love it, too.

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

13525938Edie Middlestein has a big problem. She can’t stop eating. She thinks about food all day long. This wasn’t a problem until her Doctor told her she had to put it to a stop or she was killing herself. Her family doesn’t know what to do with Edie. After two surgeries, Edie still refuses to make any life changes. Her husband has decided to give up on his wife, for good. The responsibility falls on Edie’s children to make sure that Edie is cared for. But her children have lives of their own. What is a family to do when a loved one refuses to follow medical advice? How can they keep their mother healthy when she is a grown woman who makes her own decisions? Edie’s friends gave up on her long ago, because she will not listen to anyone.

This novel outlines the very real events that domino through families with a member whose habits are killing her. The helplessness and guilt that courses through these people, how it affects their own lives, and the hardship that illness brings into a family. If you want a more serious, family-related read, this one might be an interesting choice for you. Warning, however, it’s pretty sad. The audiobook is available from Hachette Audio, and it is very well narrated.

The Middlesteins, by Jami Attenburg, is a portrayal of obsession, and how that obsession can cause a ripple effect among families that changes everything.