“Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York.” So begins the first paragraph of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
I was surprised I had never heard of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Of all my years of reading and my love of novels, I never discovered it until recently.
Betty Smith, the author, grew up in Brooklyn and recreates the world of her underprivileged childhood in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The daughter of German immigrants, Smith weaves her fictional tale with incredible detail. She brings the sights and sounds of life growing up the slums of the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn to life for readers.
The reader views these details through the eyes of Francie, the young heroine of the novel, Francie learns from a young age of the cruelty and hardships of life. Yet she finds a way to escape through books and discovers her own talents and intelligence along the way.
Through Francie’s voice, Smith leads you through the pain, sorrow and joy as Francie comes of age in Brooklyn. Just as the trees in Brooklyn find a way to grow, Francie herself gracefully matures into an inspiring young lady in the early 1900s.
A Tree grabbed my attention with the first words although it kept me wanting to come back for more. It wasn’t a novel that made me want to drop everything and curl up with a blanket for hours on end, but I always found myself ready for the quiet moments at night to arrive so I could read a little more of Francie’s story.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is worthy of your time. Smith’s beautiful weaving of words to create Francie’s world are worth savoring and enjoying.