A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the story of Francie Nolan, a poor 11 year old girl, and her family. During the course of the book she becomes 17 and you will probably age about the same amount as Francie does, because this book is so very long.
Reading this book, I felt like I have been to Brooklyn in the 1900s. I feel like I’ve smelt the air, seen the streets and can recreate it in my mind. The truth is, I’ve never even been to modern day Brooklyn. The descriptions in this book are beautiful and vivid.
Francie has a desperately poor upbringing. Her mother is caring, strong willed and quite harsh with her in an effort to prepare her for a hard life, though she tries with all her might to make a better life for her kids. Her father is likeable, but an alcoholic who has always struggled with providing for his family. She has a younger brother and an extended family, with two aunts taking significant roles in Francie’s life.
Francie is a bright girl who struggles to make friends. She loves reading and is determined to get herself educated so she has a chance of escaping the awful poverty she’s grown up with. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn gets a bit sentimental at times, but it’s a lovely story of a young girl growing up and dealing with the shit life throws at you. The parts where she starts to see the shabbiness of her surrounding with more grown up eyes, and starts to see how other people see her shambles of a father are heartbreaking. This picture of family life is worth the investment of time and is an easy read.
I enjoyed this glimpse of Francie’s life. but I really wish it was 200 pages shorter!