Second Time Around: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

There’s rarely a time when I feel compelled to reread a book. The majority of fiction books that I have read in my recent years have been teen romance novels, as you would expect the stereotypical high school girl to read. Although I don’t often read for pleasure anymore, I try to make time during school breaks. But each time, it will be a new book that someone has recommended to me. In my opinion, there’s not usually a plausible reason to reread a book. I know the plot, it was “nice,” but I didn’t take much away from the book except for perhaps wishful thinking about boy behavior (I found out that I was woefully wrong).

But this book? A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith? I’ve reread it time and time again, discovering something new every time. I’ve written about this before, but not particularly extensively. I think the concept to take away from my previous post can be summed up by the following:

They say that one of the best ways to understand a person as well as their morals and priorities is to read their favorite book. This book touches me because Francie’s character exemplifies how I would like to approach my problems, and the society that I grow up in. Since she first went to school, she’d wanted to be a writer.  Her family was comprised of immigrants, and they had endured many hardships and economic struggles to rise out of the poverty that they had continually been confined to. The story follows her from her childhood to the beginning of her adulthood, and depicts changes in perspectives as she becomes continually more mature, and gets increasingly globalized in perspective. These changes build character. I take her personal revelations in consideration, accepting my ultimately infinitesimal role in society. Francie expressed a strong interest in writing, and the method that Betty Smith utilizes to explain why help spark my interest in literature as well. The lessons that I take from the book guide the way I deal with overarching problems.

I can reread this book over and over because it’s so different from the books that I have previously read. Because Francie grows up around 1900, there’s no phones or computers. All the character interaction is personal. Moreover, there’s very little romantic interaction. And even if it does occur, it does so between Francie’s parents, who, although relatively immature, didn’t have to deal with their young love in high school, where they had to worry about college or parents or something like that.

I feel as though rereading this book teaches me a new lesson every time. It seems as though if people made a conscious effort to take something away from a book’s plot besides the plot, which is quite shallow without much analysis, they would feel very enlightened reading a book like this.

The fact that this story takes place 100 years before the time period in which I currently live makes me feel nostalgic for a time that I’ve never encountered. I won’t claim that I regret technological developments that have occurred since then, but I abhor the social situation that technology has put us in. I long for a time where the social interactions were much more personal, where everyone was comfortable looking each other in the eye without feeling the need to grope for a phone.

Again, as previously mentioned, I enjoy rereading this book because of Francie’s personality. Following it evolve as she grows up, watching the temptation appear to her, observing her decisions and emotions, these all teach me how to it is possible for people to be humble, to accept who they are and to find a balance between being practical but passionate about something that inspires them.

The story itself is wonderful in itself; the book has five separate parts that follow different time periods not only in the life of Francie, but also her parents Katie and Johnny when they were young. No matter how outdated the book is, it will still be much more realistic than anything else that I’ve ever read.

I’ll come back to this book when I’m feeling lost in character and motivation. It will provide a comforting story with astoundingly profound underlying themes, guiding me on my way to college – and beyond.

– Daily Prompt


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  11. sheila

    I have never read this book but I should tell you, some books are written to be read twice. love your analysis, you should be proud of yourself as a high school student.


    • catdiggedydog

      That part is wonderful! Especially the way that everyone reacts when Neeley and Francie go up to catch the tree! People’s faces and comments are just so heartfelt. One of my favorite portions is probably when Francie is an adolescent, going off to work, while her life is relatively drama free. This is probably because we’re around the same age, but the whole grabbing on the bus part just cracks me up :)


  12. Roberta

    I too love this book and have ever since I read it many years ago.. I have a really old copy of it on a book shelf. I highly recommend the movie if you have not seen it. It’s an oldie but goodie b&w….


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