One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
A Tree Grows in BrooklynRead about another entry on the list.
This is considered a young adult novel and I think it's an unrecognised American classic because it centres on the life of a young girl. Set in Brooklyn 100 years before the neighbourhood became hip, it is about a family trapped in grinding poverty. It also has one of the best insights on writing that I've ever read. The heroine, Francie Nolan, yearns to write. After trying to create lush fantasies for a teacher who finds her real-life stories "sordid", Francie realises that describing one's fantasies is a round-about way of being inauthentic.