Title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Author: Betty Smith
Genre: Fiction, Classics
Date Finished: 5 June 2009
My Rating: 5 Stars
Challenges: 100+, New Author, Chunkster, RYOB, Classic, Spring, Daring Girls
I figured out a long time ago that I generally love character driven novels so it is really not at all surprising that I loved this book, a very heavily character driven novel. But I did not think it lacked plot like I have heard others say. I thought this was a very well plotted coming of age story that gave the reader a look at what life would have been like living in Brooklyn during the early 1900s.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an American Classic that tells the story of three generations of the Nolan and Rommley families. The story focuses mainly on Francie Nolan, a young girl coming to terms with many aspects of her life including hunger, poverty, meanness and death.
While I did not think the book lacked plot, what I did love most about this book were the very richly drawn characters, especially Francie. One of the most interesting character traits I found in Francie was how she tried to find or create order and control where she could since her life was often not what she would have it be. She had to try each flavor of ice cream by going down the list and trying the next one every time they went to the ice cream shoppe and she was reading the books in the library from A-Z. I have to say I loved reading the bit about the books because I attempted something like that once myself. I decided I would start at the A's and work my way through the entire collection all the way to Z. Unlike Francie though I quickly gave up when I went and looked at the first few books in the A section. They all sounded boring.
The book was populated with strong women characters that I could not help but root for as I read. There was Francie herself but also her mother and aunts, women who took control and did not let themselves become victims to circumstance.
Betty Smith's novel tells a beautiful and moving story. I read most of it in one day because every time I set it down to go do something else I found myself drawn right back to the book. I know a lot of people don't see this book in the same light I do, but I really could not put this book down. I just had to keep reading to find out what would happen to Francie and her family. Adding this book to my list of all time favorite books.