Book Review: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn


After I read To Kill A Mockingbird, my friend Heidi let me borrow her copy of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. It took me awhile to get to it, but I finally read it & loved it! I think it's my new favorite book.

Betty Smith wrote A Tree Grows In Brooklyn in 1943, but it was re-printed in 2001. I remember when I lived in NYC, I saw this book everywhere, so I was surprised when I started reading it & learned it was originally published in 1943. I thought it was a 10 year old book.

From Amazon:

Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt who gives her love too freely--to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Francie learns early the meaning of hunger and the value of a penny. She is her father's child--romantic and hungry for beauty. But she is her mother's child, too--deeply practical and in constant need of truth. Like the Tree of Heaven that grows out of cement or through cellar gratings, resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive.

I fell in love with the main character, Francie Nolan. Her story broke my heart, but I couldn't quit reading it. It took me about 3 weeks to finish this book. It's long, but I also read it slowly because I didn't want it to end. In the few days since I finished reading it, I haven't quit thinking about Francie & wondering what she's doing now. I always find the mark of a good book is how much I continue to think about the characters after I finish reading it.

I think one of the things that fascinated me about this book is the fact that it's semi-autobiographical. Betty Smith was born Elizabeth Wehner on December 15, 1896, the same date as, although five years earlier than, her fictional heroine Francie Nolan. The daughter of German immigrants, she grew up poor in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

I loved this book & I really think it's my favorite book now. Better than To Kill A Mockingbird. Better than The Poisonwood Bible. I know a lot of you read this book in school when you were younger, but I recommend re-reading it now. It's long, but it's so worth it.

Five stars!

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