Favorite “old” book of 2021: Daddy was a Number Runner

This book was a revelation! Originally published in 1970, Daddy Was a Number Runner by Louise Meriwether is a book I should have read long ago but I wasn’t aware it existed. This book has many parallels with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, which has been one of my favorites since I was a kid. They both follow young girls named Francie growing up in NYC, but instead of a young white girl in Brooklyn in the 1910s/20s, Number Runner focuses on a young Black girl in Harlem in the 1930s. Francie faces challenges like poverty and family stress while navigating the particulars of her Harlem neighborhood and the racial oppression of the 1930s. It’s definitely a classic that should be read more widely, and one I know I will revisit again.

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