A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (And Now, in My Heart)

I am member of a low-pressure book club that meets maybe four to six times per year. I maybe make it three times a year, and I always enjoy it when I do. This week, we met to discuss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and I am so glad I read the book and attended the discussion. 

Cover of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Somehow, I had never read this American gem. I don’t know how I missed it, and I don’t know why someone along the way didn’t put it in my hands and say, “READ THIS.” Once I picked it up, I was so glad I did. While “page turner” may not be a the right description, this novel is perfection.

Francie is the main character of the story (and thus the reason she’s always part of Middlemarch Madness). She comes of age in the early 1900s in Brooklyn. Her parents are first generation Americans, working class, and barely scraping by. Her family survives on her father’s tips as a waiter, the junk she and her brother collect, and with a little grace.

Our discussion centered around that time in history, how things have changed, and how things have stayed the same. We discussed the differences between Francie and her brother Neely, despite the fact they are so close in age. Francie’s drive and determination drastically changes the course of her life, and we examined that. What was it that gave her her grit?

These are questions I’m still mulling over a week after my first read-through. I say first read-through because I’m going to have to read it again. And again.

What classic have you been glad to discover as an adult?

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