Book Review: Finding optimism in tragedy

Anita Diamant’s fictional heroine could be anyone’s Jewish grandmother.

December 11, 2014 19:05
Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant. (photo credit: GRETJE FERGESON)


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When 86-year-old Addie Baum begins to tell her 22-year-old granddaughter Ava her life story, we expect to hear much about Jewish suffering and constraint, but writer Anita Diamant’s fictional heroine is irrepressibly optimistic and forward thinking, almost unsinkable.

Addie was born in 1900 and lived with her two sisters and continually fighting Russian immigrant parents in a one-room tenement in Boston. Her parents spoke only Yiddish. Her father worked in a belt factory. Her parents fled to America after local thugs threatened her father’s life, but America always felt strange to them. Addie knew from the get-go that she wanted a better life for herself, but couldn’t begin to articulate what that even meant at the time, except that she was determined to figure it all out.


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