Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: My local Library – Get yourself a copy from The Book Depository

No matter how hard the times were, I feel like I’m missing something not growing up at the turn of the century. Mind you, one of my greatest wish is to time travel so that’s really not a big surprise, is it? There is just something about life – the difference in pace, in community but I think it’s mostly the nostalgic notes throughout this book which really drew me to life back then.

Of course, having your main character loving to read is a Great move. Which reader out there does not like a Reader MC? I love how Francie looks forward to coming home and having things set out just right at her favourite spot to read – does that remind you of yourselves? It sure does me!

The book begins when Francie was 11 and just starting to realise a lot of differences between dreams and reality. This is a true coming-of-age book as we see Francie very determinedly fighting for more in life than just a life of drudgery and ends where we see Francie carving her own path to the future.

One thing which really annoyed me about this book was the mother’s preference of one child over another. I’m trying not to be too judgemental as I’m sure that does happen but to actually tell the child of it and shrugging it off as something you couldn’t help… that kills me! Still, I was quite happy to see that the mother was willing to give all for the safety of her child, preferences aside.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading about Francie and her family. Whilst I was kind of annoyed at the mother [see above], I actually admire her cuz she’s a real woman, tough and determined, a good woman. Funny how I actually ended up admiring her instead of Francie, who whilst being the main character, was just likeable to me. Here is a favourite part of mine…

She bought the coveted dance set-panties and brassiere made of scraps of black lace held together by narrow black satin ribbon.

Francie showed her dance set and mama let loose her “Oh, my!” of astonishment.
“Do you think that’s what fast women wear?” asked Francie hopefully.
“If the do, I’m sure they all come down with pneumonia. Now let’s see: What’ll we have for supper?”
“Aren’t you going to object?” Francie was disappointed because mama wasn’t making a fuss.
“No. All women go through a black-lace-drawers time. You came to it earlier than most and you’ll get over it sooner. I think we’ll heat up the soup and have that and soup meat and potatoes. …”

The attended mass together Christmas morning….
Francie was wearing her lace pants and freezing. Whenever an icy wind blew her coat apart and went through her thin dress, it was as it she had no underwear on at all. “I wish-oh, how I wish I had my flanner bloomers on,” she mourned. “Mama was right. A person could get pneumonia. But I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of letting her know. I guess I’ll have to put these lace things away until summer.”

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3 thoughts on “Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    1. Tien Post author

      I’m sure many of us will have those books we feel guilty for not having read – this is just one little one down for me, lots more to go ha ha ha

      We definitely do respond better when we can identify with a reader protagonists 😉


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