Saturday, February 24, 2007
I first read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in junior high, in a copy from the library that had another Betty Smith novel, Maggie-Now, in the same volume. I loved it and had to eventually buy my own. To my delight, the copy from the library turned out to have been abridged, so when I read MY copy there was much more story. The book starts out describing how 11 year old Francie loves Saturday because on Saturday she goes to the library (and runs various errands with her brother), which is the perfect way to hook a book worm into a book). The book follows Francie Nolan through five years as she grows up in a poor family in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn at around the turn of the century. Her father is loving, colorful drunk and her mother is (by necessity) hard working and practical. Francie struggles to make her way in the world, feeling like an outsider because of her bookish ways, and the way her family's financial struggle has shortened her childhood. The book is a very detailed view of this world, including great period details, such as when her younger brother transforms him self into a sharp dresser and requests spats for Christmas. Betty Smith's novel Joy in The Morning is a also a great book.