My Little Pocketbooks: Review: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn   

Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Author: Betty Smith
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Release Date:  January 18, 2005
Paperback:  528 pages

Source: Purchased from Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore
Buy the Book: Amazon
Book Description
The American classic about a young girl's coming of age at the turn of the century.
"A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one. It cuts right to the heart of life...If you miss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you will deny yourself a rich experience...It is a poignant and deeply understanding story of childhood and family relationships. 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 sufferings that are the lot of a great city's poor. Primarily this is Francie's book. She is a superb feat of characterization, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child. And Francie's growing up and beginnings of wisdom are the substance of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."
--New York Times
"One of the most dearly beloved and one of the finest books of our day."
--Orville Prescott
"One of the books of the century."
--New York Public Library

Review
 If this book was not a selection from my book club for the month of September, I don't think I would have ever read it.  I never heard of it until it was nominated. 
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the story of a young girl, Frances Nolan growing up in Brooklyn, New York at the turn of the century.  The story takes a glimpse into a poor family of four surviving on the income of the mother and alcoholic father.  What they lacked in money they make up for in pride, dignity, imagination and love.  This is a wonderfully written story that takes the American Dream and shows us what it meant to this family.  
I thought the book started off kind off slow and I really did not get into the characters until they were older, half way through the book.  I had a small connection to Frances when she goes to the public library and the reader gets to find out why she loves it so much.  I had the same feeling about Redondo Beach Public Library when I was a kid.  But there was something about the book that just did not click with me until the end.  
The book highlights the negative relationship women had with each other.  Women were out to take men from each other, to brand other women whores, fight over jobs and at jobs, belittle the children, and they are always out for themselves until the midwife is called.  Then they all come circling the wagons and help out in the bringing of a new child into the world.  It was odd the amount off dislike, hate and fighting going on in this book.  The kids are fighting with each other at school and in the streets. It is a constant fight for the highest rank in the lowest ranked neighborhood.  I think that is the only thing that had me not 100% engulfed in the book.  
I loved the new things I learned.  Mostly, I learned about real life in the 1900's about the way people really lived and thought, about the clothing the poor men wore and the food they ate.  As I was reading the book, I had to get a cup of coffee a few times and had to fight the urge to buy a sugar bun.  Ahh!  Just thinking about it now is making my mouth water.  
The ending was perfect and just the way a great story should end.  Don't worry I won't tell.  

Audiobook: 15 hours and 2 minutes
Kate Burton (Narrator) 
The narrator for this audiobook, Kate Burton did an excellent job and really pulled it off.  She nailed the various accents in the small Brooklyn neighborhood.  She had to perform the German, Jewish, Irish and New York Brooklyn accent (male and female) and keep France's voice age appropriate for the right age in the book.  I think she did a great job of narrating this book.

Reviews by Other Bloggers

Recommendations
I recommend this book to teens and older readers due to the amount of children abusing each other.

Challenges
This book is number 26 in my Women Reading Challenge
This book is number 9 in my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
This book is number 36 in my Goodreads Challenge

 Mocha Girls Read Book of the Month 

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