Marjana Simic's Reviews > A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  Smith
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's review
Jan 25, 2011

it was amazing

What a beautiful storytelling! It made me feel like I'm right there with all the characters feeling their sorrows and happiness. When they were sad, I was sad. When they were happy, I was happy too. Betty Smith was truly a gifted writer. The story follows a girl named Francie throughout her adolescence and then teenage years. Her family is one of the poorest in Brooklyn, yet it seems the richest because of their closeness and understanding of each other. It was nostalgic to read about Francie's childhood and see objects from a child's perspective (i.e. small and simple things seemed big and beautiful like the bowl in the library with flowers in it). Francie's and her brother's innocence was refreshing because very few children today behave that way. They were part of another time, much less devious, though poorer.

Francie goes through a series of rights of passage without even realizing it. Ups and downs build her character along the way. She transforms from a lonely girl to a more fulfilled woman. She meets Ben Blake who helps her with the studies and we later learn his full name is Benjamin Franklin Blake which sounds too coincidental with the founding father of America.

The book taught me a little about the American culture of the early 20th century - the way people talked, thought, what kind of possessions they had, what kind of jobs were available at the time, what kind of stores were around, what people looked forward to, what their fears were, and so on. I think that the title of the book is symbolic of hope. No matter how rough life (the ground) is (and we read that the trees grow from concrete), there will always be a way for happiness (growth). A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is deservedly a classic and it gets 5 stars from me.

Favourite quotes:

"'Dear God,' she prayed, 'let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry... have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere-- be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.'" p.421

"Oh, the last time how clearly you see everything; as though a magnifying light had been turned on it. And you grieve because you hadn't held it tighter when you had it every day." p.476

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Reading Progress

January 25, 2011 – Shelved
January 27, 2011 – Started Reading
February 10, 2011 –
page 127
February 25, 2011 –
page 178
March 9, 2011 –
page 294
March 9, 2011 –
page 345
March 17, 2011 – Finished Reading

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