Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:
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.

My Review: 
Let me start this review by saying this is a classic that every American citizen should read.  It brings you back to a time when life was much harder than it is today-people actually had to work hard and sometimes fight for every single piece of bread being put on the table.  Our society has evolved into something allowing people to just get what they want, so it was refreshing to read a book about people who worked hard for their earnings.

The Nolan family has definitely had their fair share of hardships, but that doesn't stop Katie, Francie's mother, from trying to create the best home for her family that they can afford.  They go out of their way to make every penny stretch.  From going to different butchers for better cuts of meat, to walking an extra couple of blocks for a less expensive bread at a bakery, this family knew how to save money.  And with Johnny, Francie's father, spending all of his extra earnings at the local tavern, Katie found her way of saving a necessary way of life.

We follow Francie through her daily life and sometimes wonder how she and her young brother can make it another day when they are cold and hungry.  They look forward to school knowing they at least will not be cold for the day.  Francie has high expectations early on in life when she sets her eyes on a school in another District that would offer her a better education.  Her father may have been the local drunk, but he helped Francie do what she needed to attend that school.

There were moments in this book making me giggle with delight, while others had me gasping with astonishment.  I can't help but consider this book a great American novel that should be read by everyone, especially young kids that have everything given to them.  With themes of family, struggles, and America, I'm sure you all would enjoy this novel as much as I did.  I highly recommend this novel for either personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  This book is from my personal library and I read to it for my own entertainment and as a book club selection.


bermudaonion said...

This is one of those books I know I should read but somehow just never have. I'm adding it to my wish list.

Anonymous said...

I have this one but haven't read it yet! Isn't it nice when you can check a classic off your list?