February 26, 2013

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith




Publisher: Harper & Brothers
Publication Date: 1943
Source: My own copy

Description:

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 Thoughts:

I first read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was a teenager. I loved the book with my whole heart. That hasn't changed. I was swept away by the story and the characters all over again with this re-read.

I didn't grow up in Brooklyn. I didn't come of age in the early 1900's. But there is something about this book that makes me feel as if I did. Betty Smith puts you in that time and place and makes it seem as if it's happening to you. I felt the joys and the sorrows of the Nolan family as if they were my own. 

Francie Nolan is one of my favorite narrators of all time. While her family is ground down by alcoholism, poverty, and illiteracy she keeps striving to better herself. She knows that education is the key to having a better life and she is tenacious in her attempt to learn all that she can. Despite a hard life she finds comfort in the simple joys that come her way.

What brings Francie the most solace? Books! Ah, now there's a girl after my own heart. 

“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words.” 

“From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived.” 

“As she read, at peace with the world and happy as only a little girl could be with a fine book and a little bowl of candy, and all alone in the house, the leaf shadows shifted and the afternoon passed. ” 

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is exquisite. I count it among my very favorite books of all time. If you haven't read this classic you should move it to the very top of your list.

2013 TBR Pile Challenge
The Classics Club














36 comments:

  1. I've had this on my shelf for a LONG TIME and still haven't read it. I knew it was a classic that everyone loved, so I'm not sure why I've waited so long! I think I might have to read it after I finish Jane Eyre. :)

    PS - I love the look of your blog! That cursive font is gorgeous! :)

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    1. Hi Kristilyn! You really should get to it after your current read :) I dare you to! See, now you HAVE to, lol.

      Thanks!!

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  2. Same here—on my shelf for years, borrowed from my mom a long time ago. Now with my 2013 reading challenges I might not get to it for a while yet...! It just takes a lot of talking myself into picking up classics. Other genres attract me more, that's all. But I do want to get to it!

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    1. You'd better read it before your mom asks for it back, ha! There are so many books vying for our attention, I completely understand that. The classics have a way of making their way to the back of the shelves because we know they will always be there. :)

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  3. I LOVE this book! Your post makes me want to reread it - immediately.

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    1. Thanks JoAnn! It's simply fantastic isn't it? :)

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  4. I don't know much about it but feel I should, having read your post. I'll have to add it to my classics club list.

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    1. I hope you do Charlie! It's beautiful :)

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  5. OK, I definitely must read this!

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    1. Yes! Yes you MUST! :) I order it! Ha ha!

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  6. AWW What memories!! I had this one, and when I moved halfway across the country, I gave it to my Best Friend. Le sigh.

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    1. Le sigh is right! I think it's nearly time for me to ask my youngest daughter to read it. It's a great book to share with someone :)

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  7. All the love for this book and for Francie! I just read it for the first time last year, and I wish I had read it as a teenager. I'm looking forward to giving my boyfriend's little sister a copy in a few years, though :)

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    1. It's one of those books that deserves a re-read every year or two. :) I bet she will love it!

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  8. I've had A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on my wishlist for a while now. Francie sounds like an incredibly character. The quote gave me chills and it's easy to connect with it. I want to order it now after reading your review!

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    1. Please do Isa, you won't be disappointed! :D

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  9. This is on my Classics Club list and I definitely think I need to crack on with it sooner rather than later!

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    1. I hope you do Ellie, it's an absolute pleasure to read :)

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  10. This is such a great book. I regret that I didn't read it until my twenties, though. :( I think this is one of those books you can read when you are young and then come back to again and again.

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    1. I completely agree. There are a few books that I could read again and again. This is one of them!

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  11. Oh how I loved this book when I read it those many years ago. I'll have to reread it soon!

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    1. It definitely deserves a re-read or two ;) Or three!

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  12. I've been meaning to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn one day, I have heard good things. The quotes you mention here are great! Glad you enjoyed this re-read.

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    1. It is so so good! You should totally read it Naida, you won't regret it!

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  13. Great book! I just read one that totally reminded me of it: The Tale of Lucia Grandi (will be reviewed on my blog Tuesday...)

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    1. Oh cool! I'll look forward to hearing about that one!

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  14. This was my last book for February and I loved it as well. You fall in love with Francie Nolan and can't wait to see how she's going to make it.

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    1. I'm always bummed at the end of this book because I want to know MORE ;) Thanks for visiting Jennine!

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  15. I didn't know you were rereading it! And yes, Francie makes you feel there, with the Nolans, in Brooklyn.
    I loved the story too, although I found a little bit ridiculous the thing about reading all the books of the library starting with the A and so on ;)

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    1. LOL Isi! See, I'm just the dorky sort of girl that would attempt the A-Z reading ;)

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  16. Oooooh a reread and you loved it both times? Then it's a must for me!!!!

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    1. I loved it even MORE this time :) I love a book that you can take different things from depending on when you read it. It means different things to me now that I'm a bit more mature.

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  17. Oooh I adore this book so much! Francie might be one of my favorite characters ever. I am definitely due for a re-read.

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    1. You and me both Kelly :) She's not a little firecracker like some of my other favorite characters (Scout from Mockingbird, etc) but she I love her just the same.

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  18. Beautiful review, I don't know anyone that hasn't adored it ... that should be enough to make me pick up my copy and finally read it!

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    1. Thanks :D And yep, that should be a good reason, lol. I hope you do soon :)

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