susie's Reviews > A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  Smith
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Apr 23, 2007

really liked it
Read in October, 2009

i really loved this book; it reminded me of a Frank Capra movie. it seemed like an impossibly crisp recording of how things were in the early 1900s re: american poverty and bigoted social structures especially. Like a Frank Capra movie, though, the story is woven with an underlying optimism despite some of its dark themes. I felt like I had a better understanding of this time period and history of Brooklyn from reading this book, but also: can you imagine a time when people sang so frequently, and everyone knew the words? it's basically a musical in print.

eventually i started to just laugh when i read the names of the songs. there were literally HUNDREDS listed throughout the book (sometimes complete with lyrics)

example:
p. 480 "They did Ted Lewis's song: 'For When My Baby Smiles at Me." From that it was inevitable that they go into 'There Are Smiles That Make You Happy'..."

oh yes...inevitable

p. 437 "They Sang 'A Shanty in Old Shantytown' and 'When You Wore a Tulip', 'Dear Old Girl', 'I'm Sorry I Made You Cry' and other songs."

um....ok

some more songs mentioned throughout this novel:
"When Irish Eyes are Smiling"
"Harrigan, That's Me"
"The Sidewalks of New York"
"She May Have Seen Better Days" !!!
"I'm Wearin' My Heart Away For You"
"When You're A Long, Long Way From Home"
"Hello, Central, Give me No Man's Land"
"I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier"
"You'll Find Old Dixieland in France" !!!
"Down by the Old Mill Stream"
"Sweet Adeline"
"Mother Machree"
"Let Me Call You Sweetheart"
"My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon" !!!
"When I Get you Alone Tonight"
"At the Darktown Strutters' Ball"
...the list goes on.

ps. what is up with the long song titles?
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Reading Progress

10/19/2009 page 441
89.45% 1 comment

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message 3: by cassie (new)

cassie You should do some covers.


Gabby you make a great point, about all the songs! i didn't even think about it before. i liked this book too, very detailed.


susie cassie: if i knew ANY of these songs, i might think about it. "There are smiles that make you happy" sounds like a hit
jennifer: i definitely recommend it
gabby: what's up next in our book club of 2?


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