Ebookwormy's Reviews > A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  Smith
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May 25, 08

bookshelves: carp-500, 1-character-forming

This is one of those books I wasn't sure I would like until I got all the way to the end. I came to love Francie Nolan early in the story and wanted so much for her to fulfill the promise to BE the heroine; which she does. That alone makes this a book to read and re-read. Francie's parents, Katie and Johnny Nolan are captivating and complex in that they each contain admirable traits as well as crippling faults.

Initial exposure to the crushing poverty in which Francie lives is disturbing, and generally created a feeling of gratitute in me -- both for myself and that we have the ability to provide food for our children. This book is rich in wisdom. Themes of the importance of family and loving imperfect people abound, as well as struggling with discrimination, loneliness and fairness. Perception is examined effectively in the context of complex relationships. Overcoming poverty is, of course, a theme; some do it through education, some through marriage, all through hard work and perseverence, and some never do.

Some of Francie's observations and conclusions are not wise, particularly in her younger years, but she always manages to right the ship before it tips.

The last section, as Francie matures to young adulthood, was a bit weaker in comparison, but by that time, I was already hooked. Weaker how? While the storyline remains strong, the characters seem to lack the depth of those developed in previous sections. It's not a fatal flaw, but it was a bit disappointing. This also contributes to a feeling that the ending is a bit contrived (partly because it ends positively). I wish the characters of the final section were a bit more developed, particularly the strong male characters that emerge, as this would have made it even more powerful.

This book has a distinctly feminine touch as the entire narrative explores interwoven relationships among Francie's family and the neighborhood. This approach creates a masterful work that may not be as interesting to male readers. I can picture this as a great discussion book for mothers and (adolescent) daughters.
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message 1: by Mandy (new) - added it

Mandy This is on my shelf and I keep meaning to pick it up. Can't wait to hear how you liked it!


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