A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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This is one of my all-time favorite books. Betty Smith succeeds gloriously in telling a somewhat harsh, bittersweet story through the softened lens of a child’s eyes. I read this book first in seventh grade and liked it, but truth be known, I think a lot of it went over my head. I related to the protagonist Francie Nolan. Her compulsive lying and writing were both relatable to me as a child (and now, to be honest). 

I read it again my first semester of college and was impressed and thrilled with not only complexity of the characters, but also of the quality of Betty Smith’s writing. This book is harshly honest, yet simultaneously sweet and endearing. I found myself crying in my dorm room reading it, and feeling oddly refreshed and comforted afterward. The book causes one to reflect upon the brutality of humans, yet it also opens one’s eyes to the small glimmers of kindness that make life worth living.

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