A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a truly delightful classic YA. This happens to be one of those brilliant ones. Published in '43 but regarding a time in NY over 30 years prior, it relies on realism and unflinching look at the life as it was. There was a lot of good, bad, and ugly.
There's a lot of hindsight in this book, of course, but it is written in such an engaging way that I was lost in the life. Poverty is first and foremost -- poverty, normal expectations, education, parents and siblings, and even a little first love, but underneath it all was the reality of poverty.
It's chipper, really, and they all try so hard, and it's obviously HARD to live, especially with alcoholism and regrets and pride, but that's what makes the novel so good, too. I'm lost in it.
I don't know. I read this and I was very impressed. I kept thinking, "You know, this reminds me a lot of Dostoevsky. The voice, the immersion in poverty, the brightness of mind, of education, of trying to get by. It reminds me of the best stuff of Dostoevsky, but American, and by a woman."
I know this might come across as high praise, but it's also quite true.
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