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.
Published : 1943
Author: Betty Smith
My Rating: 4/5
Genre: Classic, Young Adult
This book has been in my to be read pile for quiet sometime now. I picked it up the day I finished with my exams. It is based in one of my favourite cities i.e. Brooklyn, New York. Then its set in the 1920’s.
The main protagonist is a little girl named Francie. The story revolves around her and her family’s life, how she grows up, how she survives in the harsh world of Brooklyn. It was a bit slow for me at first but it got me hooked the minute she goes into that library.
This book is a reality slapped across your face to make you see how the world was almost a century ago. And how it is still the same. Times have changed but poverty, grief, disease etc remain the same.
It’s a story of hard-working people and how they turn their lives into something more than what they were born with. Such stories are convictions of the fact that no matter where you are born or what you have, you can do better. You can be more than who you were meant to be.
I loved Francie’s fascination with Manhattan and how for her it was just a bridge away but still seemed like miles apart. One thing that was heart breaking to read was how Francie’s childhood convictions broke and came apart, one by one. Like normal kids finding out that there is no tooth fairy. For her it was finding out that the world is not as beautiful as she imagined it to be.
All in all, it’s a great book. There are so many different parts of it to love and cherish. It has a bit of everything in it, all the emotions you can imagine.
“Because,” explained Mary Rommely simply, “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.”
“But she needs me more than she needs him and I guess being needed is almost as good as being loved. Maybe better.”
“Forgiveness is a gift of high value. Yet its cost is nothing.”