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Title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Writer: Betty Smith

Publisher: Arrow Books (2000, first published 1943)

Pages: 487 p

Bought at: Kinokuniya Ngee Ann City Singapore (SGD 24.08)

I have read many-many bad books, and a bit of good books, but great books were really rare. I’ve always been very happy if I came across a great book, a book that could become a classic and will be remembered in a long-long time.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn fell into this category. It has all requirements to become a classic. Lovable characters, great settings, nice-flow storytelling, and memorable ending.

The story moves around The Nolans, a poor family lives in Brooklyn in early 20th century. The Nolans are: Johnny, the handsome drunken father;ย  Katie, the hardworking and very logic mother; Francie, the main heroine, observer of human lifes; and Neeley, the lovable little boy of the family.

We were taken to see the life in Brooklyn, mostly through Francie’s eyes. Francie is a smart, clever girl, but without money that could make her dream to study in college comes true. In the beginning of the book, Francie is a small girl of eleven, but we were following her in the journey to the teens world. She was forced to grow up before the appropriate time, to help her mother supported their family, because father was too busy drinking and daydreaming.

Brooklyn in pre World War I is very fascinating, although filled with poor communities, but their relationships are very genuine. Lots of immigrants living in Francie’s neighbourhood, making her as a true American, since her parents were born in the US. Francie learned a lot as a child, how to make the most from her poor condition. How she cherished the Sunday meal with meat in the table! And how she and Neeley collected junks to sell it for some nickels. Betty Smith’s portrait ofย  poor society and the world around them is very real and convincing.

I read this book as a part of Twenty Ten Challenge, for the Older Than You Category. The second book for the challenge, and still 18 more to go! =)