When I was in high school, my grandmother gave me a copy of Betty Smith’s classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I had never heard of it before, but as it was a gift and I am an avid reader, I sat down to read it right away. I also knew my grandmother would probably ask me about it next time I saw her, so I knew better get started on it. I’m so glad I did because it just so happens that it became one of my favorite books. Not only is it one of my favorites, but I truly believe it is a book all young women should read.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows the coming-of-age story of Francie Nolan growing up in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn, New York. It may be the early 1900s, but the story feels timeless. As a child Francie looks at the world through rose-colored glasses, despite being from a poor family, having little education, and a stern mother and a dreaming yet alcoholic father. As she grows up, Francie begins to see the world for what it is. It doesn’t stop her, though. Instead, she overcomes the adversity life throws at her and she has plenty of strong women in her life to show her the way. And despite the fact that we witness Francie grow up in this adversity, we don’t feel sorry for her. Sure we empathize, most women can, but we cheer for her as she navigates an ever changing society and the obstacles faced by many women over the generations.
My advice for you now that we are enjoying this crisp fall weather…put on you favorite sweater and fuzzy socks, get your go-to warm drink, cuddle up under a blanket on the couch, and read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Get lost in the history of New York City and find yourself in a little girl named Francie.