Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Well, as the saying goes, there's just no accounting for taste. A friend of mine loaned me Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani, saying I probably wouldn't like it because she certainly didn't. Surprise! I liked this book a whole lot--it is a comfortable story about New York City and high end shoes with dashes of Capri and Italian food thrown into the mix. What's not to like? The author gets very specific about the craft of cobbling, so maybe that's why my friend was irritated. Loving shoes the way I do, I was fascinated. In any case, in reading (as in romance), you never know where sparks are going to fly.

A book that everyone seems to love (and I'm no exception) is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Francie Nolan is the main character (somewhat based on Smith herself) who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC in the early part of the 20th century. She endures poverty, hunger, family troubles, including a rogue of a father, to finally triumph at the end, with education and love. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a classic coming of age story which has carved a permanent niche in many a reader's mind. A friend of mine (a different one) said her fondest memory of this book is the scene which illustrates a profound irony of poverty: the mother, Katie (having been chastised for throwing away coffee) announces that even poor people need to be wasteful once in a while to understand what luxury feels like.

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