Reads: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn5:48 PM
Once upon a time when I was an adolescent, my Father would yell at me to go outside and play with my friends, instead of sitting on my butt reading. Whenever there was a break from school for the holidays, I would basically read all day until relatives came over and whatnot. Now as an adult, I am hoping for at least an hour of my upcoming vacation week to read. Stupid adulthood. Anyway, this book was so captivating to me, that I took it to the bar and ignored my friends while I finished the last chapter. At least I am still a dork?
Plot: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn focuses on and Irish-American family in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City during the first and second decades of the 20th century; Francie Nolan, her younger brother Neely, and her parents Katie and Johnny. Francie relies on her love of reading and her imagination to escape from the poverty that defines her daily existence. The family survives off of Katie's earnings as a cleaning lady, pennies the children receive from junk-selling and odd jobs, and Johnny's irregular earnings as a singing waiter. Johnny's alcoholism makes it difficult for him to keep a steady job, and he views himself as a disappointment to his family because of it. Francie admires him because he is handsome, talented, and emotional and sentimental, like her. Katie has little time for sentiment as she is the breadwinner of the family who has forsaken fantasies and dreams for survival.
Of course the novel is a beautifully written piece on a struggling family's journey of hope and survival, while breaking the reader's heart several times before it is finished. But that is not what made me fall in love with this book. It was how real the characters were. We don't just see Francie and her family work hard, go hungry, etc. But we see what her days are like, what the family eats on a daily basis, what Francie's mind wanders to when it does, what she thinks about when she walks home from school, and how these things change as she grows. It is like little snap-shots of someone's life, and it made me realize that is why things like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are so popular now. Something that might come off as "boring", like what a person is eating for dinner might also be considered intimate. The reader also has to keep in mind that Francie's lifestyle is what forces her to share what she does in a creative manner, so the reader becomes more appreciative of something as simple as what hot, fresh, coffee tastes like.