3 Reasons to Read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Guest Post by Bella)

Classic Literature Event

This July Pages Unbound is celebrating classic literature with a collection of guest posts. We asked other readers to tell us what one of their favorite classics is and why we should read it.

Bella is a rising high school senior and an avid reader and blogger. When she’s not stuck with her nose in a book or with a pencil in hand, she can be found stage managing school drama productions, shopping at J.Crew, or writing yet another to-do list. She loves when people stop by and say hello at chicandpetite.wordpress.com.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Look at my bookshelf and you’ll come across a variety of authors and genres. My Morgan Matson collection is lined up besides The Penderwicks books; Cress and Winter have a home next to Ally Carter’s many series; and my classics – those by Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, and the like – fit in with memoirs by Malala Yousafzai and Maya Van Wagenen. Needless to say, I read novels of all sorts, but the ones I return to again and again are, funnily enough, the oldest {no wonder they’re classic literature}.

When I read about Briana and Krysta’s celebration of the classics, I was quick to take them up on the opportunity. Who doesn’t love to gush about the stories dear to their heart? While I could talk about the works of J.D. Salinger and Harper Lee for days, I decided to instead persuade you to read another wonderful story: Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Without further ado, here are three reasons why you should grab it during your next library trip:

The characters

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn chronicles the life of Francie Nolan, a young woman whose home is in the Williamsburg tenement neighborhood. Francie is an admirable protagonist; she faces what life throws at her with courage and a never-ending sense of hope. Additionally, her dreams for the future are never dampened by her acceptance of reality and the hardships of a poor immigrant family; in other words, Francie has an awareness of the world I’ve yet to come across again in my reading.

On a similar note, Francie’s world is defined by her family members and friends, characters just as vibrant and realistic as she. From her parents, Katie and Johnny, both of who have deep fears of their own, to her little brother Neeley, the supporting cast is another impressive element.

The plot

Critics of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – and thankfully, there are few – note that nothing seems to happen throughout the book. I dare to disagree; the plot may be simple, but it’s far from boring. The memoir-style of the book, as it was based on Smith’s childhood and adolescence, invites readers into the ups and downs of the Nolan home with ease. Smith spares no detail that adds to Francie’s growth, turning a story of everyday life into a dynamic tale that relates to all readers, young and old.

The setting

Finally, Smith writes of the Brooklyn setting as only someone who has lived there can. She brings to life the sights of Francie’s neighborhood and the sounds that fill the streets. Here’s an example of the simplistic, stunning writing: “Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains – a cup of strong hot coffee when you’re blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you’re alone – just to be with someone you love.” Her attention to detail and ability to craft a vibrant environment in a matter of sentences is another reason why I continue to recommend A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Thank you again to Briana and Krysta! I hope you’ll soon read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, or, if you’ve already read it, you’ll feel inclined to revisit it! Furthermore, if you ever want to chat good books, graphic design, or Boden clothing, please feel free to stop on by Ciao Bella and say hello.🙂

One thought on “3 Reasons to Read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Guest Post by Bella)

  1. Lost In A Good Book says:

    Funny how people would say nothing happens in this book. Extreme poverty, suffering, alcoholism, death, child abduction, and Francie’s resilience in spite of everything doesn’t count for much then huh?! That’s just crazy talk.😉


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