Rating: 4.5 / 5
A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN was December’s pick for the #classicsbuddyread hosted by @freefallinreader. This is a book that I’ve seen receive a lot of love and it is one I’ve had on my TBR for quite some time.
A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN centers on Francie Nolan and her family as she grows up in the slums of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Francie is born to a family with limited means, but she is raised to love books. She seeks out beauty in the most difficult of circumstances. The story follows Francie from her youth picking up scraps for pennies as she grows up. She sees firsthand how those with money gain privileged and favor on every level and she is left to fight for her education and to advance herself.
A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN is a hard book to give a summary for. It is very much a character centered book and not very heavy on plot. It did take me a little while to engage with the story, but Francie really was an endearing character and soon I was hooked into the flow of the book. Francie is raised on the Bible and Shakespeare and grows up believing in the importance of education. Her father is “sick” (aka drunk) much of the time. Her mother is a no nonsense, practical woman more concerned with keeping her kids healthy than with helping them to fit in with their peers. Francie finds advocates in unlikely places and is willing to stand up for herself.
The situations Francie and her family face are certainly heartbreaking at times, but I feel like this book gave a beautiful if hard depiction of the harsh life faced by people at the turn of the century. This isn’t a time period I have read much about and I really loved Francie as a character and would strongly recommend this novel.
3 thoughts on “A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith”
This is one of my favorite books of all Rome, for just the reasons you gave. She’s such a pure, well-developed character! Also as a New Yorker, it’s hard to believe that Williamsburg was so poor back then.
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That would be really interesting to know the area now and see it through different eyes!