A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Okay, who is that neglected to tell me I should read this book years and years ago? Whoever you are, you are TOTALLY fired.
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” is the story of Francie Nolan and her family in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Nolans don’t have much money, scrimping and saving to even get by, but they do have determination. Francie’s mother, Katie, is determined to do what it takes to keep her family together and keep them from feeling too much deprivation. Francie is determined to get as much education as possible and frequently loses herself in the world of books.
I remember this being one of the books in the Readers Digest Condensed Books series we had when I was growing up. I know that abridgments are mildly evil, but the books were beautiful and I loved to pick them up. I know I read many of the works out of those books, but I always avoided “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” because I thought the title sounded totally boring.
I really, really wish I hadn’t prejudged this book, but I’m also really, really thankful to Heather for picking this for our Classic Reads Book Club. I loved it. L.O.V.E.D. it. First of all, Betty Smith’s writing is gorgeous and completely evocative of time and place. Besides that, Francie is a girl after my own heart, working her way alphabetically through her local library, getting so excited about schooling.
If you have reached adulthood without reading “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, ” please do yourself a favor and read it as soon as possible. I think it might join “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck in the group of books that I reread regularly.