Second Reflections – a tree grows in brooklyn (Betty Smith)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read.  In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder!  And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends.  So I decided to remedy that and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .

a tree grows in brooklyn (Betty Smith)

I have been meaning to reread this book for ages.  It was one of me favourites as a young girl and I avidly read it over and over again.  So when I heard that the the September BookBum Club Challenge’s theme be “back to school – reread a “required reading” book you read in school / read a book that’s on school curriculums / reread a book you read while attending school,” I thought the timing was perfect.

And bless me salty heart, this book was as poignant and amazing as I remembered.  Part of the fun of the reread was that when I first started reading this book I was younger than the main character, Francie, is at the beginning of the story.  I am now older than Francie is at the end of the book.  Me perspective of course has shifted quite a bit as I have aged.  So it was a delightful blend of new perspectives and old nostalgia.

What hadn’t changed was the awe and love I felt as I was reading.  This book is at once an fascinating coming of age story and also a snapshot of life at a specific time in a specific Williamsburg neighborhood in the early 1900s.  The story just feels so very real.  The people feel real.  And yet there is a timelessness to it that makes it feel as relevant today as when I first read it.

And Francie!  Ah how much I related to her as a child.  Her thoughts about books, her lack of childhood friendships, having an alcoholic father, her big dreams, her family’s poverty, her issues in school, and her daydreams about people and places.  I loved her then and wished she could have been me friend every time I read this book.  I loved her just as much now.  She holds a place in me heart in much the same way as Scout does from to kill a mockingbird.

And like the mockingbird symbolism, I also loved readin’ again about that special tree by the fire escape in Brooklyn where Francie hides, dreams, reads, and watches the neighborhood.  It is a perfect symbol for that neighborhood and the people living there.  I loved that Francie could see the beauty in ordinary things and triumph in small pleasures.  And that tree was one of them.

Overall this book made have tears of sorrow as well as aches of joy.  The current time and place disappeared and I was completely captivated by the world of Betty Smith.  Me silly, paltry words do this book no justice.  But I will not be waiting as long to read this again.  Plus Kate Burton did a fantastic job with the narration of this audiobook.

Much thanks to the BookBum Club for giving me the incentive to reread this “back to school” novel.

Side note: I had no idea that this book has been turned into a movie and a musical!  I like what’s in me noggin and so will not be watching either of them.  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

To visit the author’s Goodreads page go to:

Betty Smith – Author

To buy the book go to:

a tree grows in brooklyn – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous 2018 BookBum Club Monthly Reviews

March 2018 – “And the award goes to – pick a book that has won an award!”

April 2018 – “Short and sweet – read a book that’s under 200 pages!”

May 2018 – “Around the world – a book by an author who is from another country.”

June 2018 – “Movie night – a book that was adapted into a movie.”

July 2018 – “That is so last year – a book ye meant to read in 2017.”

August 2019 – “It’s the sound of the police! – a crime book, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction!”

20 thoughts on “Second Reflections – a tree grows in brooklyn (Betty Smith)

  1. I remember not wanting to read this book when it was assigned in high school, but that might have had to do with the fact that it was assigned the same summer that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire came out. *lol*

    I didn’t remember the musical, which seems very odd to me, but you’re quite right to leave off the movie. I had my library hunt down a copy of it for my on VHS and it was not very faithful to the book. They changed too much in my opinion and messed with timelines, which really upset me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah I remember the days of avidly waiting for the next HP book. Once I had them, I basically spent the entire next day readin’ them until I was done.

      Yer comment about the movie cements that I shall not watch it. Ugh. Thanks for taking the time to read me post. Arrr!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a book I never heard about until I was an adult, and honestly, most people I know did not recommend it to me! Therefore, this is the first positive review of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn I’ve received from a friend! Thank you– it’s so nice to hear what you love about this book.

    I always find it interesting how books grow and change with us. How each re-read inspires something new. … … Oooh, you just gave me an idea for my next Between the Lines post. 😀 Thanks for the inspiration, Captain!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Huh, your take on this book is completely different from mine. I read it when I was a tween or young teen, and couldn’t stand it. I didn’t connect to the characters at all. It’s fascinating to see how what you got from your readings of the book varied from my own reading. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t read this one for school. One of my family friends (I think my godparents?) gave it to me with the expectation that I would like it. I didn’t normally have a problem with book gifts, so maybe it was just bad timing? Or maybe the characters just didn’t resonate with me. I know that is one of my biggest problems with liking a book. If I can’t connect to the characters I’m very unlikely to like the book.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There is no telling why a book doesn’t resonate. I often am the dissenting voice about well loved books. And aye, a lot of times that be because I don’t like the characters. Everyone seems to have loved Monty in the gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue and I made that walk the plank because of him!
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Aye matey, as me friend says “every trashcan has its lid.” I can’t make fun of other people’s favourites. I like books with talking ponies in them. Well I guess I can make fun of people. They can just make fun of me in return! I have no shame about me like of talking ponies.
        x The Captain


    1. I actually was amazed at how strong me emotions were and how much giddiness came over me in rereading it. Plus I really didn’t expect to get teary. I mean seriously it is odd given how many times I have read this one. I knew what was coming! I do recommend it. Thanks for readin’!
      x The Captain


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