"A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" by Betty Smith
The first time I read this book I was a young teenage girl, the second time I was in my twenties, and now at age 45 I have read it a third time. It is one of my favorite books!
The book is considered a coming of age story, and it is a classic. The book is the story of a girl named Francie Nolan, she has a younger brother named Neely, a father named Johnny that is a singing waiter and also an alcoholic, and her mother a persevering and hard working woman. They live in a tenement building in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. The time period is the early 1900's.
While I read the book I considered why the book is so endearing to reader's, I believe it is because there is something in the story that reader's can relate to from their own lives, their own childhood. All of us at some point in our childhood have suffered from wanting to be accepted and liked by our peers, but yet they taunted us, or worse abused us. Maybe we felt ignored, or not really "seen" for who we really were. When we tried to express ourselves we were told not talk about the ugly things in life, but instead to talk about the "prettier things." Maybe some of us grew up in a dysfunctional home, or an alcoholic home, or poverty. In some way we can see our own selves in Francie, and we want to befriend her, to help her in some way, to tell her that she can over come her life circumstances.
The main character Francie Nolan is a just a girl, not overtly pretty, poor, docile, lonely, reserved, she absorbed her life surroundings like a sponge, she tried desperately to understand people, and most of all to be loved as much as she loved others.
The author Betty Smith breathed life onto the written pages of this classic book of Francie Nolan and her family, by the intricate details of their everyday surroundings, the idiosyncrasies of their personality traits, mannerisms, and flaws.