When someone asked me to name a few of my all-time favorite books, I realized there was no easy answer. I usually say Jane Eyre, because that is my overall favorite for a variety of reasons.
There are so many wonderful stories that have touched my heart and maybe even changed my life a little, or at least my way of thinking. One of the most beautiful is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Of course, it’s a literary novel—I always seemed to prefer those. This is a work of art that follows a young girl coming of age in the early twentieth century.
It’s not a sweet story, though there are moments of sweetness. Francie Nolan is the daughter of an Irish immigrant living in the inner city, at a time when life wasn’t easy for the Irish in New York. Her father struggles with alcoholism and finds it difficult to provide for his family.
Even though my early life bordered on poverty, the Nolan’s situation made me feel as though we’d been rich. Life-changing. I read it more than once and loved the movie version (1945).
What makes a story unforgettable? Have you ever watched an artist paint a picture? It’s fascinating. Especially when the picture is created from the artist’s imagination. You watch in awe as they add layer upon layer of color, shadow, light. Gradually, a scene emerges, sometimes stunning in quality.
You can say the same about a really good story. The writer translates his or her imagined tale into words and builds a world on the page that can be achingly real. The reader is caught up in the story and forgets that it’s only a story.
That’s how I feel when I read stories like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I feel the angst, the hunger, the humility, the encroaching darkness when all seems lost. I keep turning pages, enthralled and then, there it is—fresh hope—like the light at the end of the tunnel. I love happy endings, but it doesn’t have to be rose gardens or even lottery winners. Hope is the key to a great ending, in my humble opinion.
Which book, novel, screenplay, or story changed your life? Left you breathless and filled with hope for the main character? You may have read or watched it numerous times to discover every nuance, every hopeful thought, like licking the crumbs from the plate after your favorite dessert.
P.S.: Congratulations, Susan Mills! She won a copy of Annabelle’s Ruth for her comment on my blog post/giveaway last week! I also sent her a bonus book, Rebeccca’s Legacy. Happy reading, Susan!