A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is one of those books that I can read, read and read again. I never got tired of this one. It is the story of one Francie Nolan growing up in the poorer neighborhoods of Brooklyn and her coming of age. The story has struggles, pain, fear, courage, humor and all the other things that make up a good book. But what it makes it great is everything is so subtle. All the emotions are just below the surface lying there for us to experience. This is what makes it readable multiple times as we can delve deeper each time we read it.
All the characters are made endearing through Francie's eyes despite their weaknesses. It also revealed her strengths as a person. She was aware that she would always come second compared to her brother when it came to mother's love. Yet she bore the hurt, loved her brother, and mother all the time. As a reader, you felt for Francie. But like Francie, you eventually agree that Mother was right even if it hurt.
There is no grandeur nor any mystery in the book. It only describes the plain everyday existence and survival of the family. Yet, you feel you are the friend that Francie never had, experiencing the joy and pain together as if one. You want Francie to be happy, safe from any hurt and pain.
Other characters - Aunt Sissy, Francie's dad whom Farncie loved much, and Katie - like Francie remain with you long after the last page turns.
This book is not a page-turner and am glad for that as it can be relished slowly taking in each of the emotions and the book allows us to grow up again with Francie.
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