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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

1/60 | Started 12.02.23 • Finished 01.07.24 | 5 stars

What a story. I literally just put down my kindle after finishing the last page and I seriously feel so satisfied. Smith paints a story around the Nolan family of Brooklyn, NY, with the central character being the oldest child, Francie. Her father, Johnny, is a waiter/singer and her mother, Katie, is a tenement cleaner. Her brother, Neeley doesn't seem to want to do much, but he is the spitting image of Johnny. Francie is a reader who wants to write - she wants to be something. But there isn't a lot working in her favor.

She had the knowledge that she was small but she lacked the courage to be otherwise.

I loved following her story, coming up through difficult times, sticking it out at school, learning about love, working hard to get where she wants to go. I don't want to give away finer points of the plot - and there are many of them! I think it just goes to show how much of life turns on both the big and the small things.

Oh, the last time how clearly you see everything; as though a magnifying light had been turned on it. And you grieve because you hadn’t held it tighter when you had it every day. What had Granma Mary Rommely said? “To look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”

A clean coming of age novel with great character development and a real sense of triumph in the end. It is a long read but well worth your time.

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