Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn--Recommended Reading

A tree grows in Brooklyn

Someone suggested this book to me the other day, and I can't believe I had never heard of it. It is a classic. And after reading it, I can see why. It was breathtaking in only the way that another writer appreciates. Or perhaps I am not giving you enough credit. You should read and judge for yourself.

As a reader, I have always enjoyed being transported to another place and time. This time it is Brooklyn. And even though I have never been to Brooklyn, and my idea of it is probably skewed by late night television, I feel as though I lived in the tenement with Francie. So vividly she describes life that I devoured each word like a hungry baby bird. It is not so much the plot, but the heart wrenching truths that you can feel vibrating from beneath. Sometimes Betty Smith makes you wince with her painful tale. You are there, screaming in agony as another child is born into the world...the impoverished and struggling world that is Brooklyn.

You sit amazed as Francie describes life in the borough. You applaud as her mother scrubs floors and takes in ironing and stretches meals with day old loaves of bread. You wonder, will Francie and her brother Neely survive? Yes, they do indeed survive. Like that tree that comes up through the concrete and refuses to give up life. They struggle. They bend. But they are not broken. This may be fiction. It may be a fabricated tale strung together with vivid images and colorful characters. But what one comes away with, ah, that is the truth. And when you can read a book like this and feel like you have peered deep into the wellspring of life, then you have read a masterpiece.

Thanks Elisabeth Wehner (Betty Smith). And thanks for the recommendation Don!


Anonymous said...

I have never read it either. There is a TV version that I almost watched. Tooooo sloooow for me though.

C. H. Green said...

Would like to see it just to see if the book is better. It usually is.

Delia said...

I'd never heard of this before. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.