Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Author: Betty Smith

# pages: 493

Date published: 1943

Genre: classic

Challenge(s): Summer 2008 Reading Challenge, Chunkster challenge, Well-Rounded Challenge, 888 Challenge, Raved-About Reads Challenge, What's in a Name Challenge


(one of the best)

Setting: Brooklyn, New York

First Sentence:

“Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York. Especially in the summer of 1912. Somber, as a word, was better.”

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.

Random Thoughts: I’ve heard about this book for a long time and I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I loved it. I can see why everyone seems to love this book. Although I didn’t grow up nearly as poor as Francie, I could still relate to the little girl, especially her fascination with books and education ;o).

Favorite quotes:

“For quite a while, Francie had been spelling out letters, sounding them and then putting the sounds together to mean a word. But one day, she looked at a page and the word “mouse” had instantaneous meaning. She looked at the word, and the picture of a gray mouse scampered through her mind. She looked further and when she saw “horse,” she heard him pawing the ground and saw the sun glint on his glossy coat. The word “running” hit her suddenly and she breathed hard as though running herself. The barrier between the individual sound of each letter and the whole meaning of the word was removed and the printed word meant a thing at one quick glance. She read a few pages rapidly and almost became ill with excitement. She wanted to shout it out. She could read! She could read!

From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood.” (p. 166)

“Francie came away from her first chemistry lecture in a glow. In one hour she had found out that everything was made up of atoms which were in continual motion. She grasped the idea that nothing was ever lost or destroyed. Even if something was burned up or left to rot away, it did not disappear from the face of the earth; it changed into something else—gases, liquids, and powders. Everything, decided Francie after that first lecture, was vibrant with life and there was no death in chemistry. She was puzzled as to why learned people didn’t adopt chemistry as a religion.” (p. 431)

Let’s give people a variety of opinions! If you've reviewed this book (or a book by this author), leave me a link to your review in the comments and I'll link to your review, too!

Also reviewed by:



joanna said...

I loved this book too, it's one of 'nice' books out there!

Kim L said...

I reviewed the book recently here.

I really liked it too!

Fyrefly said...

When I read this (about ten years ago) I wrote down the quote about chemistry on a scrap of paper... which I have of course long since lost. Thank you for essentially finding it again!

Kristi said...

That's so cool, fyrefly ;o). Glad I could "find" the quote for you -- my geeky science side is showing again isn't it? ;o)