Classic Remarks: A Recommended Classic I Loved

This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: What classic did you read – and love – because it was recommended to you? Well, the real answer is just about all of them.

Seriously. Pride and Prejudice because it was Kathleen Kelley’s favorite book in You’ve Got Mail. To Kill a Mockingbird because my sister-in-law said it was her favorite book. The Scarlet Pimpernel because my 12th grade world lit teacher read the first chapter aloud to us and I loved it. Their Eyes Were Watching God because my anthropology teacher recommended it. EVERYTHING from The Great American Read back in 2018.

In fact, I think I’ll go ahead and talk about a book from The Great American Read today. Because this is a book that I not only wouldn’t have read, but wouldn’t have even known EXISTED if it wasn’t for that PBS special. I was so inspired by listening to Noelle Santos,* owner of the small indie bookstore The Lit Bar, describe how it was the first book she saw herself in, and how it made her a reader, that I knew I just had to pick the book up. And I loved it.

*you can watch that clip here

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a coming of age story about a young daughter of immigrants living in poverty in early 20th century New York. Francie’s life is hard: her family can’t always afford food, her father is an alcoholic, her teachers abuse her, her neighborhood is dangerous. But she finds solace in books and in familial love. This book is tough and honest, but still full of the wonder of a child. Like The Catcher in the Rye, we might today consider this a “young adult” book, though certainly that descriptor did not exist when it was written in 1943.

Continue reading “Classic Remarks: A Recommended Classic I Loved”

Thoughts from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

220px-TreeGrowsInBrooklynGenres: Fiction, Classics
Maturity Level: 4
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.


I wasn’t sure, before I started, whether I would like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or not. I don’t typically enjoy 20th century American literature, and it’s so LONG. But the longer I read the more enchanted I became. Continue reading “Thoughts from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”