Essential Summer Reading: A Classic Tale of Hope and the American Dream

The Four Percent

IN AN AGE OF anxiety, it’s tempting to dream of a kinder, more glamorous and distant world. But it might be even more helpful to remember places closer to home, impoverished and pedestrian—to travel through time rather than space to experience a realm both different from and similar to our contemporary one.

Betty Smith’s semi-autobiographical “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” her 1943 novel that became the basis for Broadway, radio, film and television adaptations (including a musical), tells the story of Francie Nolan’s escape…

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