Friday, November 23, 2007

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith

Originally published in 1943. 493 pages.
The edition I read has a foreword by Anna Quindlen.

I can't believe I hadn't read this book before now!

My slight aversion to "classics" may have something to do with that, but this past summer - after hearing another glowing recommendation - I thought that Sugar Plum and I would read the book together. She started it but didn't get into it, so I put it off some more. Because I had put A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in the "first tier" of my "Something About Me" reading list, I felt some obligation to follow through with it. When I discovered that it was the November pick for the Yahoo Classic Lit group, that was the incentive to finally get me into the book. I am so very glad I did!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - which is based on the life of the author - is the coming-of-age story of Francie Nolan, who lived in Brooklyn at the beginning of the twentieth century. As Quindlen says in the foreword: "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is not the sort of book that can be reduced to its plot line. The best anyone can say is that it is a story about what it means to be human."

I'm not sure I've ever had such a sense of grief about having to say good-bye to a character in a book. As I neared the end, I just didn't want to finish, as I knew this would be the last I heard about Francie. (The only other book that has ever given me a feeling close to that was Anne Tyler's Saint Maybe.)



  1. I was surprised that I hadn't read this one either. I finally got to it about 1.5 years ago and really enjoyed it. Glad you did, too!

  2. I loved this book, and Saint Maybe, too. The Something About Me challenge ends this month, right? I remember it being Nov 30, but someone said it was extended, but I couldn't find anything at the blog saying so.

  3. Sounds great, thanks for the review. I'll put it on my list.

  4. I have yet to read this one, but it is in my list and on one of my challenge lists. I have read several reviews lately and can't wait to get started!

  5. This is one of my favorite books! I read it when I was in high school and immediately felt a strong connection to Francie. I also enjoyed Saint Maybe and another one I was sorry to put down was Stones From the River.

  6. dewey: at the top right of the "Something About Me" blog, it says "August 1 to December 31" - i do think it was originally four months, but at some point Lisa extended it to five.

    irishcoda: i'll have read Stones from the River!

  7. I should read this one, too. And your grief at finishing it is the highest recommendation a book can get, in my opinion! I'll have to continue on with Anne Tyler and read Saint Maybe, too. Thanks for the review!

  8. This is on my list, I had it ordered for my library which only had it in large print. It should be here next week. So glad to read you loved it before I read it! I just added Saint Maybe to my wish list, I haven't read it, either.

    I was wondering have you read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell? Just finished it and I don't know anyone else who has read it. It is strangely facinating.

    Have a great week!
    Jennifer @ memoirsofahomeschooler

  9. I haven't really heard much about the book although I've seen the name all over the place. Funny about your aversion to classics. I thought I had one of those too until I realized how many classics I actually read...maybe I'm just a glutton for classical punishment. :) I'll have to check this one out sometime.

  10. I'm one of the few left who haven't read this one yet. Been meaning to, honest. Of course, I can say that about sooooo many books...
    But I think I need to move this one higher up on the proverbial pile. The fact that you didn't want to leave this character behind speaks volumes.

  11. I just starting to visit book blogs and yours is one of my favorites so far! I am jealous that you must live somewhat nearby the Salt Lake City Library. We visited there in April, (we're from CA)and my kids and I fell in love with the library.
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the next selection for one of my book clubs. You're review has made me even more anxious to read it.

  12. It's really rare to have that separation pain when finishing a book---and quite a compliment to the author!