There is nothing like reading a Classic... A Tree Grows in Brooklyn will not disappoint the reader who loves one! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book; Smith writes eloquently of the early 1900's; she relates in her writing of the suffering & struggle of poverty of many people of Brooklyn, New York. The stories are mainly about Francie Nolan and her family, but are well-told. Smith has a way of storytelling and writing; adding a little humor, too, from Francie. A great read!
As is stated in this books forward, this story isn't about one thing. There isn't one topic, one climax, one point. It meanders quietly, yet poignantly through the growing up years of a young girl living in the poverty stricken tenements of 1912 Brooklyn, NY. To describe the plot is impossible if one wants to do it justice. There's just too much that would have to be left out and that that would be a shame. Suffice it to say it keeps one's attention to the elimination of everything else.
Upon research, I found it is actually an autobiography of the author (which makes it even more moving and unforgettable) who, upon request turned it into a story. I also learned while it became a huge best-seller when originally published in 1942, it was also hugely controversial. People didn't want to see poverty and injustice, reality in their stories. Looking in that mirror could be just too uncomfortable. Honesty is fine - up to a point - but truth is sometimes awfully hard to stomach. Taking from the book:
" Honesty is casting bright light on your own experience; truth is casting it on the experiences of all"
And, that's what Ms. Smith did so well. In her story we see bits of ourselves, for good or bad. We relate to the too-skinny girl who doesn't fit in. We remember the cruel children, the harsh teachers, the humiliating situations that coat the human experience. We also remember the joys that make childhood magical, the dreams that make growing up an adventure, no matter one's social class. Francie's life is filled with life - humanities. It's a story of living among the desperately poor through the eyes of one who knows nothing else. But, lest one think it is depressing and dark, it's also a story of love, of family, of the infallible will to do better in a country where better is always promised but sometimes disappoints. It's innocence shines through even while its hideousness is obvious. It is a quiet, heart-wrenching, soul-felt, yet ultimately hopeful story. It accepts weakness but inspires greatness. It admits ugliness while searching for beauty. It acknowledges great despair while encouraging great hope. All with a clear, simple voice of an 11 year old girl
Have loved this book since I was a little girl!