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Books my mother taught me to love

By Samantha Cowan • May 07, 2018

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Samantha Cowan and her mother, Leslie Cowan.

One of the greatest gifts my mom has given me is a deep love and appreciation for stories.

Whether it's reading, going to the movies or the made-up tales she told me when I was little, storytelling has always been an important part of our relationship. But, as life got busier and I moved away from home, the stories that had once been so important, became harder and harder to share.

So, we decided to create a mother-daughter book club. Once a month, we sit down and enjoy food, wine, and each other’s company. It’s an evening I look forward to, as we take a moment in our busy lives to reconnect.

For the inaugural month of our book club, we decided to read one of the first books I remember my mom giving me: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I sat down with my mom, Leslie, and we interviewed each other about the book’s impact on our lives.

Samantha: Why did you want to share your love of reading with me?

Leslie: When you were little, I read aloud to you every night, rediscovering books that my mother had read to me. Eventually, you were able to read to me, and before I knew it, you were recommending your own books. Our love of reading has enabled us to stay connected, and share our interests. I have seen it as a tool to impart some of life's lessons to you, and I want you to carry that with you always.

Samantha: Why is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn special, and why did you want to share it with me?

Leslie: It’s one of my favourite books. I first read it when I was about fourteen and each time I’ve read this book, I’ve become completely immersed in the story of Francie Nolan, a young girl growing up in Brooklyn in the early 1900’s. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a timeless story that takes an honest look at family dynamics. It is about hope and people who have the ability to change their lives through hard work and determination.

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All grown up and sharing a love for stories.

By the time you finish it, you feel as though you’ve been transported to a Brooklyn of a bygone era, and that you have lived every moment of Francie's life alongside her. Reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is like reconnecting with an old friend. It is a reminder that though life can be unfair, there is beauty all around us when we take a minute to appreciate the small moments.

Leslie: What makes the book so special to you?

Samantha: Part of what makes this story so special is that it was published in 1943; yet is relevant today. I think most young women can connect with the thoughts and feelings of Francie and the desire to escape the world you live in through a book.

Following Francie from adolescence to adulthood again has been an eye-opening experience. There were moments in her story that I didn’t connect with at 14 but I do now, and vice-versa. This will forever be a book that I cherish, not only because of the story it tells, but also because of the memories it brings of spending time with you.

Five recommended reads to start your family book club:

Want more related content? Read A mother's love of reading.

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