Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Smith (Throwback Thursday Review)

Throwback Thursday Reviews

Another favorite read was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Written in 1943, this American classic is the coming-of-age story of a young Irish girl in turn of the century Brooklyn, New York.

Francie Nolan is the product of her home life. She is an idealistic dreamer, but also a practical fact checker. She loves her father dearly, but he is battling his own demons and is unable to support his family. They live in poverty. Francie's mother struggles to ensure that Francie and her brother never lose sight of the harsh realities of life, so that they will hopefully make better choices. Francie's aunt is looking for someone to love her, most often in all the wrong places.

Francie struggles to understand and find beauty in her world and latches onto what she sees as its one sign of beauty, a tree that grows outside her apartment window. The Tree of Heaven, a metaphor for Francie herself, survives despite hunger, despite the struggles of living in a harsh urban environment, forced to figure out its world all alone.

This book is beautifully written. The reality it offers about the harshness of life is heartbreaking, while being touching and maintaining hope for the future, like Francie herself. I do not know how I missed reading this as a child. I was well into my thirties the first time I read it, and yet I cried a little and fell in love with this young girl, struggling to to find her place in life.

If I was a re-reader, this would be top on my list...and that is saying a lot!

5/5- Excellent. Keep it, treasure it, reread it.


Jeane said...

this is one of my favorite books