A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Book club’s pick for August, and I am so glad it was – I’d have never been motivated to read it otherwise, and I certainly wouldn’t have stuck with it long enough to fall in love with the story.
Because fall in love with it I did. I hate to gush over it too much, because often I think if my expectations are too high it’s all but impossible for a book to live up to them. If I’d started this thinking “POTENTIAL FAVORITE BOOK AHEAD!” would I have been as able to fall in love with the story and characters? And if I gush, am I setting someone else up to be disappointed?
Some aspects of it remind me a bit of Anne of Green Gables, as a coming-of-age story about a girl who finds the beauty in the ugliness that often surrounds her. However, this one is not as fitting for younger readers as Anne can be, so I wouldn’t hand it over to younger readers without being aware of the content and their capacity to emotionally handle it.
Smith is able to bring to life Brooklyn in the early 1900s, and the poverty and grim realities of life there in a way that still kept alive hope in a better future. There are some awful events related, but it never feels grim or depressing. You feel the sorrows of the Nolan family (and there are plenty of sorrows), but also the joy they experience.
My only real complaint with it is that when it ends, I’m not ready to say goodbye to Francie.
The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.
Title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Author: Betty Smith
My Rating: 5 Stars
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