Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

by Joli
Published: Updated:

I’ve been told multiple times by a couple different friends that I’d like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, so I finally decided to pick it up. Those friends must know my reading preferences really well, because I loved it!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a coming-of-age story about a girl in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. Her family is pretty poor and her dad loves to drink, so her life is difficult at times. Yet, somehow, there’s so much beauty, too. I’ll just plop the summary here…

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

First of all, coming-of-age is my jam. I love reading about that stage where kids are just figuring things out about the world. I have no idea how authors can capture something like that so perfectly, but it’s really magical when they can. Betty Smith’s story is indeed magical.

However, please note that this book is incredibly character driven! If you’re looking for something with a plot that keeps on moving, this is not that book. Yet, it doesn’t feel slow at all when reading it (at least it didn’t for me). Not a lot happens, yet…it does. Francie goes through so much at her tender age, and I got so pulled in to how everything was shaping her as a young person.

I particularly loved Francie’s resilience. So much about her life is really hard, yet she somehow isn’t just a sad sack. She’s curious, smart, and incredibly observant.

If this book has been on your TBR forever and you just haven’t gotten to it, this is your kick in the pants to pick it up. If your tastes are similar to mine, you will not be disappointed!

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[…] course, I do enjoy character-driven novels (such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), but for some reason that first bit of this book was soo slow. I think maybe it was the […]


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