thisread: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

June 18, 2011 § 3 Comments

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Hello, friends!  I welcome you to my new monthly blog installment, “thisread:”.  I’ve decided that after reading so many delicious books, I must share the love to those who find me here. And make it worth their while.  Granted, I can’t promise that it will exactly be monthly, but I try to read from my own personal library alongside our monthly book club picks, so we’ll see.

For those of you who haven’t heard of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I’m happy you’re here.  Clearly, you need my help.  Tee hee.

I inhaled this book over a long weekend at Hood Canal with the fam.  I hardly wanted to do anything else besides eat, sleep, and read this book. Within 20 pages, it flew to the top of my Favorite Book list and landed firmly within the first three spots (I can’t decide on the top spot shuffle just yet- The Red Tent and The Poisonwood Bible are tough contenders).  How could this book even compare, you ask?  With Francie Nolan.

Told from the perspective of a young girl growing up in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn, I’ve never trusted a narrator more.  In fact, I felt like I was her closest friend, privy to her innermost thoughts and wanting to give her a hug whenever things got rough.  I wish I could meet her now to thank her for telling her story, for her observations and being so honest.  She taught me a thing or two.

Kind and respectful, Francie appreciates what she has and how hard it was to get it.  As her true posessions would hardly fill a pillowcase, I considered my belongings with gratitude and a bit of shame (i.e. do I really NEED all of those shoes?) and wanted to see more through her eyes.  The girl even crafts a genius plan in order to fulfill her upmost dream– to go to school.  Endearing.  Through troubles and loss, her voice remains steady and clear, appreciative and realistic.  I wanted to see what choices she would make, how she would handle  growing up and climb out of the life she was born into.  I was rooting for her.

The writing is lovely, holding your hand through the story and helping you turn the page.  I got the distinct impression that Betty Smith’s feathers would have been rather hard to ruffle, if the tone of her novel were any indication.  Considering it was somewhat a reflection of her owh childhood, she was a gal who could handle herself and at the same time be the closest friend you’d ever have. 

Thank you, Betty Smith, for showing me what it means to write about courage and to write with grace.  Your story was compelling, as cliche as that sounds, and one that transcends any age group box.  I hope for my children to read it and love it, but in the meantime- I’ll go ahead and do that.  And hopefully you will, too. 

Rating: 150,000 stars                            Next Up: The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

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