A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Classic #10)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Classic #10)


Shelved: Classic (coming-of-age, historical fiction)
Published: 1940
Rating: ★★★★★
Challenge: Classics Challenge – #10
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

Here’s my 10th post for the 2015 Classics Challenge!

“The world was hers for the reading.”

The Nolans lived in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn from 1902 until 1919. Their daughter Francie and their son Neely knew more than their fair share of the privations and suffering that were the lot of New York’s poor. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the story of Francie, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child, and of her family.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I was watching a video by Priscilla at The Readables when I came across it. Priscilla gave it an amazing review and so I asked for it for Christmas – over 3 years ago!

WHY I Chose to Read It
I chose to read it because I’ve had it for so long that it was about time. And this year I discovered that it was one of the most popular books on my TBR, much to my surprise.

WHAT Makes It A Classic
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn probably doesn’t count as a classic in the UK because it’s a very American story. Nonetheless, I’m sure children grew up in similar circumstances in east London in the early 1900s, too. I can see why it’s treasured across the pond. I wish it was as popular here because even though the historical setting may not be the same, the colourful characters go beyond time and place. It’s a classic coming-of-age novel; a story that’s quiet and yet full of life.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
It’s my first 5* classic of the year (excluding To Kill a Mockingbird, which was a re-read). Hooray! I was starting to worry that there wouldn’t be one this year but A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is sensational. I adored reading about young Francie Nolan, growing up as a ferocious reader (quite a Matilda-like character) and, later, an aspiring writer. It was both painful and heartwarming to hear about the troubles that her family go through, from her aunt Sissy’s miscarriages to her father Johnny’s alcoholism, and not forgetting her mother Katie’s determination and strength. Often Katie feels like a woman in her 40s because she’s been through so much, but she’s about my age! A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an utterly wonderful and unforgettable tale of family and growing up.

“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words.”

WILL It Stay A Classic
It’s a beloved book in the USA and I’m sure it’ll be read for many years to come – Francie’s tale will never stop being poignant.

WHO I’d Recommend It To
People who love young adult and children’s fiction. People who love slow (but not boring!) stories. People who love stories about people – especially bookish characters!

“And always, there was the magic of learning things.”

Books On My TBR / Autumn 2015

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Classic #10)

  1. I’ve really wanted to read this classic, but it keeps getting moved farther and farther down my TBR list. Thanks for the lovely reminder that this book should be read and soon!

  2. I have been meaning to read this one forever. I think I heard about it from that same video, actually! Thanks for the great review.

  3. This is my favourite book of all time. I’m so glad to see others enjoying it! I’m almost jealous of people reading it for the first time. It’s one of those books that’s very different depending on where in life you are…it’s so different reading it as a preteen than as an adult. Almost an entirely different book.

  4. […] A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith I adored reading about young Francie Nolan, growing up as a ferocious reader and, later, an aspiring writer.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a utterly wonderful and unforgettable tale of family and growing up. […]

  5. oh. I totally agree! I read it this year as well and it was definitely a reading highlight for my year.

  6. […] Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as part of the 2015 Classics Challenge and it has become a firm favourite. An utterly wonderful […]

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s