Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

From the cover:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the story of Francie Nolan and the world of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that made her. It is a story of tears and laughter, cruelty and compassion, so crowded with life and people and incident that no description can begin to convey its spell. From the moment she entered the world Francie needed to know toughness, for life in Williamsburg was lived without kid gloves. You faced up to it or you went down - and Katie Nolan's children were not the kind to go down. It was no matter if the neighbors scorned the Nolans because of Johnny's liking for the bottle, and because Aunt Sissy had a habit of marrying many times without the formality of divorce. Aunt Sissy was bad, but she was good too. She was good because wherever she was there was life; fine, tender, overwhelming, fun loving and strong-scented life. And is a different way Johnny had something of the same quality.

Whatever might be said of life in the Nolan family, no one could complain that it lacked drama. With junk day coming every Saturday, when the children traded their weekly take for pennies, with the Fourth of July, Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving and Christmas bringing their special excitements once a year, with all the world that wasn't Williamsburg lying just across the bridge in Manhattan - each day was filled to bursting.

My Thoughts: I can't believe that I never read this book before. I decided to read it for my 5x4 Challenge, Books Older Than Me That Are Sitting on My Shelf. I haven't been sorry. This is a wonderful story. It follows Francie and her family through a few years of life in a lower class neighborhood in Brooklyn. I found Francie to be a delightful character. I enjoyed learning about life and survival in that day and age, the early 1900s. Smith rounded her characters out so well that you feel that they are friends, you grieve and laugh with them. My heart broke for Francie after she fell in love for the first time only to find out he had "tricked" her. My heart soared for her and the family as their circumstances changed for the better at the end. Read it if you haven't.

100+ Reading Challenge
5x4 Personal Reading Challenge
RYOB Challenge


Red lady-Bonnie said...

I read about your blog in J.Kayes blog post about the bookfriends award. You have a great blog and I'll be adding your blog to my google reader. I was thrilled to see that you read and reviewed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It is one of my all time favorites top ten books! I love this book. I read it in high school and still have my marked up and tattered copy. It was such a powerful story and I adored Francie and her child's eye view of the world.

Anonymous said...

I am also participating in the RYOB challenge and I think I have this around here somewhere. Thanks for the review - I'll have to go see if I can find it!

Jo, a retired teacher said...

Sharon, the Kindle works just like a book. If you want to see it in the dark, you'll need a light. The other side of that is that it doesn't wash out in bright light like some electronic media does.

Thanks for stopping by.

Teddyree said...

Love your review, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn sounds fascinating!

Anonymous said...

My 11 year old and I will probably be reading this soon, I'm not sure who will get to it first.

Thanks for your review. I'm looking forward to my turn a little more now.