Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

by Betty Smith

This coming of age novel is set in 1920s New York City and follows the Nolan family as seen through the eyes of their oldest child Francie. Her father, an Irish immigrant, is an alcoholic who's addiction condemns the family to grueling poverty but Francie's love for him sees through those details and instead remembers the things that made life bearable--his singing, his flair for detail, his love for her.

Francie is determined to get an education and get out of the slums. Her love of reading lifts her beyond her circumstances and leads her to a love of writing and literature that becomes the saving force for her family.

The novel is at times painful--the nature of the genre and the subject matter--but the portraits it paints are quite beautiful and touching. The relationships between the Nolans are fascinating and emotional, and bring the characters off of the page and into full life with all the tragedy and wistfulness of great literature. I always enjoy the subject of family relations and this example by Betty Smith thoroughly drew me into the Nolan's world.


Georgia said...

Did you ever see the movie of the same name? Wonderful. Bet you would enjoy it, too. Great review.