Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn...

This is one of those books that I picked up at the library knowing it holds a place in the American literary canon and thinking it's one of those books one should read before they die. It is a classic for a reason.
The book details so much of what is a common American experience. Grandma comes to this country with nothing, her children work very hard to scrape things together, but with the opportunity of education the third generation rises to prosperity.
There are several other themes in the book that I enjoyed. I loved how Francie, the central character, feels about Brooklyn. She adores a place that is her own home town, but she feels that she'd rather not introduce the place to strangers because they would see the shabbiness of the place rather that the magic.
I loved how loyal the family was to each other including their alcoholic father who often made life more difficult rather than easy. The families kindness to each other along with their shared imagination and dreams for the future carry them through the tough times. I love how the mother constantly says, "Don't say shutup to each other," until at the end it becomes a family joke.
The happiness, hope and the imagination of this immigrant family begin in the mind of the old grandmother who in her broken English explains to her daughter that the key to rising above comes from education. She tells of two important books that will not only help to educate and inspire her children, but will teach them wisdom. She instructs her daughter to read to her children one page each day from The Holy Bible and one page from the works of Shakespeare.
If that isn't a recipe for success, I don't know what is.... This is a classic, if you haven't .... read it.