A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith
Although published over 70 years ago, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is still relevant as a classic coming-of-age story.
The novel takes us through Francie Nolan’s bittersweet life in turn of the century Williamsburg, a neighbourhood in the north of Brooklyn. Francie’s enchantment and curiosity with the world help shield her from her family’s struggle of poverty, her Irish father’s alcoholism, and her mother’s lost dreams.
A second-generation American, Francie escapes the trials of life in her library books. By her high school graduation, there is a different Francie standing before us: it is the Francie who has read every book from A to Z; the Francie who escaped childish ridicule, her mother’s unreturned love, molestation, a broken heart and an affair.
A bestseller in 1943, Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has proven to be one of the most cherished and most relatable novels in literature and is an important read for all women.