Sunday, January 20, 2008

Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

People love this book. Even good people like those at the New York Public Library who named this one of the books of the century. The latter is what led me to read this book. I would also like to be able to say that I am somewhat versed in good literature. It took me awhile to get through. I found the plot somewhat slow. The story surrounds Francie's coming of age at the turn of the 20th century. In many respects it is similar to other coming of age books in that Francie struggles to learn who she really is in the midst of providing for her family.

I grew to identify with Francie in several ways. She stepped up to the challenge of helping her family instead of attending college. She kept her goal of a good education within focus even in times of hardship. She daydreamed and wrote stories that were never published. She was a voracious reader and lover of books. And she loved her troubled father.

In addition to identifying with Francie I found the description of Brooklyn in the early 1900's fascinating. The class structure, the marketplace, the types of labor mentioned led to a better understanding of the Brooklyn's economy up to WWI. The fact that Smith grew up in Brooklyn and drew upon her own experiences make this book all the better. I can definitely see why this would be an honored book of the century.

Kim's Grade: A A good, entertaining read for young women.

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