Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

Title: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
Author: Betty Smith
Rating: PG14 for mature content

I don't know Betty Smith. Technically speaking, I really can't know her, since she passed away before I was born. I don't really know anything about her, either, besides that she (1) isn't living (which I just found out by Googling, so I'm not sure if it counts) and (2) wrote A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. So, needless to say, I do not know anything about her writing process.

But I think I have a good idea of how it went.

What happened was that she went to New York (where the story takes place) with a book full of blank pages. She sat down on a busy corner with people bustling about, jostling each other, eagerly coming and going. She opened the blank little book and the wind blew words into its pages. Words soaked heavily in life. And, viola, the book was written.

Words cooperate exceptionally well with her. IF ONLY I TOO WOULD BE SO LUCKY.

Anyway, life imprinted itself on the very pages of her novel. If I had to describe the novel with one word that's what I would say: it's just life.

The life of Francie Nolan, the lives of her family, of her friends, of those around her. . .living, breathing, doing regular, day-to-day things that are common and ordinary (to them). I exhibited all the signs of reading a thriller while reading this book: sitting on the edge of my seat, staying up all night haunted by thoughts, tears streaming down my face, lip biting because of nervousness. But no, it's simply a work of historical fiction, so realistically beautiful.

This book renewed my appreciation for life-- both writing it and living it. It encouraged me to notice seemingly little things more (because that's what's really important) and not to get so upset with seemingly big things (because they too will pass).

Honestly, there are no words in the English language to express the brilliance of Betty Smith and her novel. Her novel is about a journey called life, with heartbreak, joy, tears, and love we can all relate to.

ALSO: Check back this Friday for a special announcement!


  1. I really need to get around to reading this--it's been on my shelf forever. Betty Smith's daughter was actually in my local SCBWI group, so I got to hear some fun stories about her. :)

    1. While I was reading it, I kept thinking about how much you would enjoy it! Oh I bet that was fun-- would love to hear some of those =)

  2. I somehow missed this book growing up. I first heard of it on The Midnight Garden(do you know that website? It's a ya book review site that is FABULOUS!). It certainly sounds like a great book. There's nothing like being inspired by amazing literature!

    1. I totally agree with you-- nothing gives more more drive to write than great lit, as well. I haven't heard of that site-- will have to check it out! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I adored this book when I was in high school. It's been a long time, but I can still remember the feeling I had when reading it, even if I can't remember individual passages.