There comes a time in every reader's life--PFFFF! Yeah right. I am not going to start this off with some sappy story of how I wanted to better myself by reading a modern classic. The truth is I haven't read any and I wanted to for a while now. Simple as that. So I decided that I wanted to start out with this little gem. Why? Brooklyn and a main character who loves books. (I don't really need much to jump into a book.) Well, little did I know that this book... wasn't going to be for me.
A little disclaimer before we continue. If you are a fan of this book, then don't read this review as you will, most likely, want to tear my head off for saying how much I did not like this book. You have been warned.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows the story of Francie Nolan, a little girl with a bright mind and a naive heart, and her many struggles living in poverty. And I am talking about many struggles. Poor kid can't catch a break. And... well, that's it. There's really not much else to the story than that.
And I think that was one of the major problems for me. It felt so drawn out and dull for the most part. I didn't think the book got interesting until about 220 pages in. A book needs to be engaging from the get-go in order for me to be invested in what's going on with its characters. I'm simply did not care at all.
The writing was good, however. I really think Smith has a knack for writing beautiful imagery. There's this one scene where she is describing what Brooklyn looks like from the top of the roof of one of its many buildings and I think it is one of the most beautiful things I have read in a very long time. When she is not focusing on the "plot," Smith writes out these beautiful sceneries of New York that, if you've been there, you know exactly what she is talking about. And even if you've never been, she describes it in a way where it is easy to envision it! God, I love the way she talked about Brooklyn! <3
But that's where my praises for this book end, I'm afraid. As I said, I didn't feel invested in these characters' lives. Francie Nolan was enjoyable at the beginning but by the end of the book, she became like all the other weak-willed women in this book. ALL THE WOMEN IN THIS BOOK WOULD LITERALLY WANT TO DIE IF THEY DIDN'T HAVE A MAN! Do you know how pathetic that is? I can't stand women like that. Making excuses for the men for being lying pieces of crap who cheat on their wives and drink themselves stupid. Ugh! Katie, Francie's mother, I hate with a passion because she made excuses for her husband and couldn't bring herself to love Francie because she was a girl. Oh, but she loved her son, Neely, with all her heart because he was the man in the house next to the father. Johnny, Francie's father, could have been a great character but that whole drinking business and not working to help support his family just makes him... pathetic. Neely was... okay. I guess. Oh, forget it. Everyone in this book pissed me off.
I am not even going to extend this out anymore than I need to. The last thing I want is to hate on a book that so many people love. If you love it, great! I am happy you enjoyed it. As for me? No. I couldn't stomach it. So many things about it just made me rage and I almost quit reading it on multiple occasions (which is why it took me so long to read), but I didn't want to do that. I wanted to give this book a fair shot in winning me over... it didn't.
If you're into modern classics about the struggles of poverty then you should definitely read this book. It's a pretty decent insight on what it's like living in such conditions. If you have little patience with women degrading themselves just so they can have a penis by their side, don't read this. You will rage. Or if you're curious, read it anyway. As I've said, everything deserves to be read. Just depends on your preferences. All in all, I don't regret reading this. I've learned from it and appreciate what it has done for the literary community.
I will be giving other books from the modern classics genre a try. Just because I didn't like this one, doesn't mean I won't like others, right? Right.