What made you the woman you are today? When Addie’s granddaughter poses this question, Addie leaps at the chance to share the milestones of her life. In 320 pages, we read Addie’s monologue, chronicling the story of a strong Jewish woman raised in Boston in the early twentieth century. We are immersed in childhood rebellion, family tragedy, resilient friendships, and great love. Although fiction, the historical realism of this book combined with relatable stories of joy, unfurled optimism, and heartbreak make the tale jump off the pages.
By Jaclyn Margolis
Our book club met over snacks and wine on a hot July evening to discuss the book The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant. Although our discussion floated in many directions, two themes resonated with me.
First, moments of all shapes and sizes define one’s story. Although some moments are significant, such as a joyful wedding or a grave loss, others seem relatively minor, yet may have an outsized impact on the future. For Addie, one of these moments is trying on pants for the first time. This brief, rebellious, wardrobe change makes her see the world differently and consider possibilities that had never before seemed conceivable.
The second point was the power of relationships. We discussed the weight of friendships, love, and heartbreak in Addie’s life and our own lives. We all uniquely identified with Addie’s trials and tribulations in building relationships, having strong connections in some, yet struggling in others.
After discussing Addie’s story for an hour, we brought the conversation back to the group. We knew a lot about what had made Addie the woman she was, but with a book club comprised of old friends and new acquaintances, we realized we needed to know more about many of those in the room. So, we ended our meeting by going around and sharing our response to the main question in the book. Each woman shared one thing that has made her the woman she is today. Some of us highlighted a meaningful experience, a poignant moment while traveling, or a great relationship, while others explained that they were still building their story. The night left us with a great feeling of connection, but also wondering how the future would continue to change and define us!
Jaclyn Margolis is a board member for the Los Angeles chapter of the Young Women’s Leadership Network. She joined the network and the board slightly after the chapter launched in 2017. She leads the chapter’s Book & Wine Club, which meets every couple of months to discuss books about women and Judaism. This column chronicles those meetings. Outside of JWI, Jaclyn is a professor, teaching classes and doing research on teamwork, leadership, and personal development. She loves living on the L.A.’s Westside with her husband and adorable dog. For more information about the book club, please feel free to reach out to [email protected]
The experience of reading a good book is meant to be shared. We're working to bring 100 libraries to the youngest survivors of domestic violence in shelters across the country through our National Library Initiative. Learn more.