Historical fiction

A Tree grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The following write-up is being posted as is after thirty-six hours of its initial conception:

Once on a journey when I was bored out of my mind, I tore up the paper covers in which the sheets and pillows had been set aside for travellers (This was a train journey and I would have otherwise just thrown the covers away). I then followed that up with a continuous scribble all the way home detailing the previous three weeks. Once I was done I saved it up and later stapled them together to look like a half decent journal. This little nugget of almost useless information is only a prelude to the blog for the day.

For the first time I am writing a full review (If I manage to finish before my boarding call) offline with the intention to upload it as soon as I have Wi-fi. I am going down this path partially because I have a wait ahead of me and partially because by the time I finished the book in question I had goosebumps on my hands with the thrill of it all. The book starts off and continues in the fashion of my all time favourite Anne of Green Gables and others of their ilk( funnily enough I made this connection on my own after I read the book and before I completed the foreword which makes the same correlation), although the spunky girl at the forefront is actually where the similarities end, it is harder and the fight to survive tougher. I have read other books of troubled livelihoods but there is a bit of magic to this one.

The book starts off with a foreword (the best I have ever read) by Anna Quindlen (books of hers I have reviewed:Miller’s Valley ;Still Life with Bread Crumbs) which only wets the appetite for the book itself. The story is mostly told by Frankie Nolan, who is the elder of two children of the Nolan’s. Mother Katie is hardworking and irrevocably bound her sisters (despite minor setbacks) and married to Johnny Nolan who may or may not be completely irresponsible. Frankie’s brother Neeley is the apple of her mother’s eye and may turn out more talented than his father. Through hungry nights and gruelling days, we watch the young mind of Frankie (a mirror of the author herself) bloom and develop. The life depicted in the book may not be within our grasp of understanding because of the time gone by, but the resilience depicted is why one should read it.

I almost started reading this book a long time ago when travelling with a friend who was pursuing it. I regret that I waited this long to actually follow through on that thought. This particular edition of the book has a lot of bits of earlier writing and details which added colour to the experience of reading it.

  • Inveigled : persuade (someone) to do something by means of deception or flattery.
  • Fillip:something that acts as a stimulus or boost to an activity.,a movement made by bending the last joint of a finger against the thumb and suddenly releasing it; a flick of the finger.


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