"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Book Report: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith



A friend who probably reads more than me recommended this book. She read it for a book club and said it was one of those life changing sorts of books, the kind that make you think about everything differently. Since it's been on my mental list of books to read for more than ten years,* I was excited when my husband bought it for me for Valentine's Day/Birthday/Mother's Day (whichever holiday it was, we can't remember) a few months after my friend suggested it.

It took me awhile to get into this book, but more because I didn't have time to read than that it wasn't interesting. The first 100 pages or so were read in 10 or 20 page increments while I waited at the doctor's office. I was so embarrassed each time I went because the first time the doctor asked me what I was reading and told me she'd read it and really enjoyed it and said I'd have to tell her what I thought when I was done. That was the first day I'd read it and at my next appointment, two weeks later, I was still only on page 26 or so. That went on for about a month and a half. Then I actually made myself find the time to read it outside of the waiting room and it moved a lot more quickly. I don't normally read books so slowly. It takes me less than a week to read most books. Sometimes only a day or two.

This book is the story of a girl, growing up poor in Brooklyn in the early 1900s. It's a great history lesson. I feel like I learned so much more about what life was like for people back then than I ever did reading a chapter in a history book about the same time period. The girl's name is Francie Nolan. The book starts when she's 10 or so, flashes back to when her grandparents came to America, her parents' families, how her parents met, when she was born, etc. When the novel ends, Francie is going on 17. But this those few years, she grows up a lot, having to work to support her family starting at 14 (lying that she's 16). The story centers around her, but delves into the lives of her family and extended family around her.

I really enjoyed this book... all 493 pages of it. I don't know that I'd describe it as life changing, but it does definitely make you think. And I think it helped me understand how things were better than any history lesson could have.


*After high school when I decided to major in English, I decided I needed to read all the "CLASSICS," A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was on my list of classics that had to be read.

1 comment:

AshbyFamily said...

When are you going to have this baby?

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