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Sunday, 1 July 2018

BOOK REVIEW: A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN

Let me put on this way; this novel is most cherished by American readers. Obviously, it is not the story of the tree itself. But, Betty Smith used the tree as a literary device, a symbol of Francie Nolan, a beautiful and brave girl who grows in paved soil in Brooklyn.
Betty Smith was born in 1896. She is best known for her novel a tree grows in Brooklyn (Published in 1943), which was immediate bestselling and considerably most prominent work of the 20th centuries. She is also the author of Maggie-Now (1958), Joy In The Morning (1963) and Tomorrow Will Be Better (1947). 

In this novel, insofar Betty Smith successfully imbued her characters with subtle words and feelings. Francie Nolan grew near Williamsburg and Greenpoint. At that time there was huge poverty between the two-great flux of immigrants, the Irish, German, Italian, Jews and the East European. Francie is second generation American. Her father was an Irish and mother was Austrian. Smith wrote every incident truthfully, so it is poignant and moving in every way. This uplifting story has a unique way to catch up the then time of Francie. I have never been to Brooklyn, but I really liked the way Smith describes the city itself. It is so lively, dynamic and heartwarming.  

I can read this story again and again. I reckon that it has a very slow pace of writing, but the way she described the day to day life of Brooklyn is mesmerizing. She is into it, emotionally attached to the street, she had grown up. 

I am not going to write about the story, but it has the power to envelop you. Francie is smart, astute, agile girl who loves reading.

          “The world was hers for the reading.”  She said.

It really gives you a lukewarm repercussion after reading this novel. Somewhere Smith writes this way:

“Dear God," she prayed, "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry... have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere - be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”

The main theme of the book is the class and poverty I in a society where Francie lives. In most of the pages, Smith writes about the struggle of the family to survive. Francie’s grandmother tells her daughter, Kattie, to let her children read every night before bed, it means they believe education is the only way to get rid of the poverty.

Without water and sun and even proper soil, a tree in the title grows in tenement districts, it symbolizes hardship in someone’s life.





 I give this book 5 stars out of five.