5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Classics · Literary Fiction · Young Adult

Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith 

Published by Harper & Row in 1943

Pages: 493

Genres: fiction, classics, young adult, bildungsroman

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: life changing books, classic literature that you will actually enjoy, coming of age novels

Read with food: roasted chestnuts and black coffee … treats of the era and enjoyed by France

 

Synopsis:

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.

Review:

I had put the audiobook version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on hold at my local library … a year ago. I was hoping to read it for the 2017 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. Obviously that didn’t happen. I read another book to meet that challenge. No big deal. I then figured that if I had waited this long, why not a bit longer to read it, and kept my place on the hold list at the library.

I am so glad that I did! A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an amazing novel. A true literary classic that almost everyone can learn something from. 

I was captivated with Francie’s story from age 11 to 17. Her observations, intelligence, progressive nature, and life lessons are still relevant to me as an adult 100 years after the book takes place. I can absolutely see why people would read this multiple times. You could probably pick out a new life lesson with each reread. 

I can’t really say anything bad about this novel. Of course, there are some actions, societal rules, and words of the time that would be unacceptable today. But nothing that detracts from the story. 

I highly recommend this amazing novel! Don’t let the length deter your, it’s worth the time. 

 

Fun fact:

I learned a new word and book genre today, bildungsroman. Definition: a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education. A sort of coming of age novel that focuses on psychological and spiritual growth. 

 

Also, bonus!

If you’re participating in the Great American Read, this is one of the books on the list. 

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