I’m someone who really likes classics, even really long, slow ones, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, is definitely both of those things. In that sense, I have to admit that this isn’t a classic that everyone will love, but for me it was extremely enjoyable.
Smith’s novel is a coming-of-age tale about Francie, a young girl growing up just after the turn of the century. I have to admit, I haven’t read many novels from this period (so much of the American cannon seems to have come out of the 20s and after), and so I really enjoyed Smith’s insight into the period – her perspectives on class lines, religious and ethnic divides, gender inequality, etc. I was captivated by these intriguing overarching themes, as well as the details about the era (paper collars?! singing waiters?).
If you’re a patient and close reader, I think you’ll find a lot to enjoy in this narrative. It certainly educated me on the realities of early 20th Century struggles and trends, and I enjoyed every minute of it.