In A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith the reader gets a close look at the life of Francie Nolan. Covering her life from eleven to sixteen, there is a love for reading that Francie possesses. In her coming of age story she strives to gain her mother’s approval and enjoys the love from her Father, borrowing traits from both of her parents. Francie has to overcome the difficulties of her life in Brooklyn, showing what life was like for an immigrant family in America, and also the importance of education.
The book is at times eye-opening and heartbreaking. Francie goes through a lot and has a tough life, but there are moments that are relatable to girls in any culture. Francie observes all that is around her and is extremely resilient. It is a truly memorable tale and a great book for young girls to read.
An interesting pairing for A Tree Grows In Brooklyn could be I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. It would give the students two different versions of a coming-of-age story. Both girls in the story deal with poverty, and hardship. They value education as a way to make their way in the world and improve their lives. The cultures that they live in differ in ways, but are similar in others. Both fathers are dreamers of a sort and do not live fully in the reality of their circumstances.
These girls make it through their adolescence of their own will. I think the books would complement each other nicely as they represent this poignant phase of girl’s lives.
In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou writes her literary autobiography. It reads like a novel of a young Maya growing up dealing with prejudice, sexual abuse, and family. She does not have a stable home and is constantly moving around the country to live with her father, mother, and grandmother.
The book gives a colorful picture of how what life was like for Maya living in segregation. There is a fear of the white people and a intrigue with the way language differs between the two races. The adults in Maya’s life show her differing ways to deal with the segregation and racism. As Maya grows up she finds her own personal identity and shows a great love for writing and reading. Click here for Maya Angelou’s website.