Century of Books

My project to read the top 100 English-language books of the twentieth century.

Location: San Francisco, United States

I am an Australian writer and blogger living in San Francisco. Visit my professional site at caitlinfitzsimmons.com, or my travel and food blog at Roaming Tales or my personal blog at The Niltiac Files. I am also on Twitter as @niltiac. See the full list of books or visit me on BookCrossing.

25 January 2008

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This is the tale of the Francie Nolan and her family, growing up poor in early 20th century Brooklyn. It's a portrait of the poor people of Brooklyn and of Francie herself, an intelligent, imaginative child. The dogged determination of the tree growing up towards the sunlight, no matter what the obstacles, is a poignant metaphor for Francie's coming of age. The writing has a deft but light touch and interesting in the way that it does not progress in a strictly linear fashion.

It reminded me a fair bit of Ruth Park's The Harp in the South, which is set in the slums of inner-city Sydney during the Great Depression. It's also about a poor Irish immigrant family in the new world and the challenges and prejudices they face, although it's set about 20-30 years later than A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and in a different city, on a different continent.

40 down, 60 to go...


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