Mary Antin was born in 1881 to a Jewish family in Polotsk, in what was then czarist Russia. Had her family not immigrated to the Boston area in 1894, Mary would have grown up uneducated, married an Orthodox Jewish man, raised children and never become assimilated into society. Thanks to the American public school system, Antin became large Americanized, learning the English language and American customs. By eighteen, she had published her first autobiographical volume, which later became her masterpiece, "The Promised Land." It is revered as a coming of age story for not only a young immigrant, but for a young woman. The novel describes Antin's childhood memories of Russia and immigrating, and the emotions she felt as she let go of one identity for another. She praises the public school system and relishes the freedom she feels as an American in a work that has been called the classic Jewish-American immigrant autobiography.