But wait, might there be more than six novels genbuffs will enjoy?
First, don’t shoot the messenger. There are surely more than six novels someone researching their genealogy will enjoy, but these are some that come to mind for me, and in case you haven’t read them, I hope I’ll be introducing you to some new reading enjoyment. And go ahead and suggest more in the comments section! (These are in no particular order.)
1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- Not only will the reader come away with a sense of time and space so accurate because the writer lived it, but he/she will also embrace this coming of age story because of course all our ancestors had to face growing up. Some themes are universal and this novel helps us realize that struggles and disadvantages can be learned from and moved past.
2. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
- Because so many Americans had ancestors who came through Ellis Island, some having to stay for a while like the character in this novel. Because some lessons are learned over and over again. Susan’s novel explores that concept by using a parallel modern story relating to 9-11 in New York City.
3. Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers
- Because we are a product of our genes and upbringing, not doomed to be shackled but destined to grow through our disadvantages and become our own. Rivers explores this theme with an immigrant main character who is determined to fulfill her mother’s hope for her without repeating what she sees as her mother’s faults. Only the strong survive, and she’s determined to make sure her own daughter realizes this. A powerful message of what our ancestors probably experienced a the effect this determination had on their children.
4. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
- This is another generation story illustrating the divide between the immigrant parents and their children who grew up in America. It also examines the prejudices prevalent during WWII on the west coast.
5. Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly
- Because millions of Americans have ancestors who migrated from Ireland during the Potato Famine. This is the fictionalized story of Kelly’s ancestors, but it could be yours.
6. When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt
- Because I know many of you have Italian roots and will love this story. While it’s another story of struggle (our ancestors surely did overcome obstacles) it explores the American-Italian culture in the Midwest and explores how friendships could become family. The character finds her purpose in the end, and that’s what we all want, isn’t it?