A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith read by Kate Burton
Audible Editor ReviewsWhy You Should Download This Audiobook: Betty Smith's immensely moving novel is essentially a paean to the human spirit—among most uplifting works we can think of. It's one of those stories you delight in giving to a good friend or family member who might be facing difficulty, certain that it could change the way they perceive life or give them strength to overcome a problem. It's also worth mentioning that this novel is a refreshing, plainspoken American work, a welcome change of pace if you've been lately persuing dense or complex works of literature.
A moving coming-of-age story set in the 1900s, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows the lives of 11-year-old Francie Nolan, her younger brother Neely, and their parents, Irish immigrants who have settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Johnny Nolan is as loving and fanciful as they come, but he is also often drunk and out of work, unable to find his place in the land of
opportunity. His wife Katie scrubs floors to put food on the table and clothes on her children's backs, instilling in them the values of being practical and planning ahead.
When Johnny dies, leaving Katie pregnant, Francie, smart, pensive and hoping for something better, cannot believe that life can carry on as before. But with her own determination, and that of her mother behind her, Francie is able to move toward the future of her dreams, completing her education and heading off to college, always carrying the beloved Brooklyn of her childhood in her heart.
My Take: I have always wanted to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn ever since I saw a small clip of it on tv when I was little, but I just never got around to it. I am glad that I finally read it and I am also glad that I waited as I don't think it is a book that I should have read at the age I was first exposed to the movie. There is alot of grownup issues in this book and I would highly recommend that parents decide whether their children are mature enough for it. Although this is marketed as a young adult novel, I would consider it more of an adult novel even though the main character is a very young Francie at the beginning of the book. That being said I really don't know how I felt about this book. I enjoyed it while I was listening to it but I was often times reluctant to pick it back up again. I think it might be because of the heavy subjects that were an everyday occurrence for the characters. Don't get me wrong there were parts that were endearing and funny and the characters didn't all have a dreary life but it wasn't an easy life by any means. I did find it frustrating with the way that Francie's mother treated her sometimes. Katie (the mother) is a strong mother and did what she needed to do to keep her family going. I know that this is many peoples favorite book but I don't think that I can put that label on it. I am glad I listened to it and I think I wouldn't have finished it if I had listened instead of read it. I think it is well worth the time to read it.
Kate Burton did an excellent job of reading this book. Her Brooklyn accent was right on and I felt like I was in Brooklyn listening in on people's conversations. I wasn't a fan of the music in between some of the sections, It did nothing to add to the story and was just distracting more than anything.
I received a copy of this audio book through Sync's summer program last year.
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