As you're looking for gifts, don't forget Betty Smith's groundbreaking novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It chronicles the life of the Nolans, a desperately poor family in the tenements of turn-of-the-20th-century Brooklyn. Though only a child when the narrative begins, the novel's protagonist Francie does her best to make sense of the joys and hardships of her family, becoming a writer before the readers' eyes. Published in 1942, the novel is part coming-of-age story and part historical chronicle. Though occasionally sentimental, the novel's cumulative power is astonishing.
A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick
The American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century.