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  • Writer's picturemeredithjohnson

Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows Francie Nolan, a girl finding her way through life at the turn of the 2oth century. It tells of her life from birth to age 16 as she grows up in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn New York. She's an idealistic girl whose daily experiences fill each chapter with laughter, love, honesty, heartbreak, and the bond of family. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is truly a treasure that I'm so glad I was made to read by my sister. She gave me this book as a present last Christmas knowing it's something I probably wouldn't read, but should. Turn of the 20th century Brooklyn as seen through the eyes of a girl from a poor family is very eye opening. Francie tells things as they are. There's no real sugar coating how tough life was for them as she was growing up. Right from the beginning the reader can see she is smart and will be able to pull herself out of the poverty she's been born into. But she won't do it alone. The greatest part of this book is how close her family and extended family are. Throughout all the ups and downs of their lives, they are together and helping each other. I love that the main group in their family who are the strongest are the women. Francie's mom, Katie, her two sisters, and their mother are all central characters who are featured when things get tough. They get their respective families through when they need to and lean on each other as well. It's beautiful to watch her grow from a child to a woman (mind you, that's age 16 during this time period) and how her view changes as she experiences more things. I especially love the view of her father through her child's eye. The rest of the world only sees him for the wrong things he does, but she can see past that to the good person he truly is on the inside and that never wavers. It's hard to sum up this book because so much life is happening throughout. I encourage you to pick up this book though. It's eyeopening and really shows how far one person can go when they have courage, love, and hope.

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