#BooktagsBlogHop A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

On the third Monday of every month, I participate in the #BooktagsBlogHop to share the books I'm reading and enjoying.

While I'm not sure if the #BooktagsBlogHop is actually running this month, I decided I would remain consistent with my posting since I have a goal of reading 2 books per month during the year of 2016. I'm actually in the middle of reading maybe 10 (?!) books right now (indecision at it's finest), but I thought I'd share a little about the book that is currently my "main squeeze" – Betty Smith's A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. It's a coming of age story that I've read before, but I didn't remember, aside from knowing that I liked it. Since I did not choose to re-read any books in 2015 (and because we found ourselves traveling at the beginning of 2016), I decided it was time to re-read this classic, hopefully falling as head-over-heels in love with it as I did the last time I read it.

As part of the #BooktagsBlogHop, I'm suppose to:

1. Share the blog hop image and link.
2. Include at least one book image.
3. Include a 500 word (or less) excerpt.
4. Review or explain my excerpt in 300 words or less.
5. Post the linky list or a link to the linky list.
6. Use the following suggested title structure - #BooktagsBlogHop: Book Title by Author.
7. Use suggested hashtags.

"They walked arm-in-arm; he in his patent leather dancing shoes and she in her high laced kid boots. Sometimes when the night was frosty and full of stars, they ran a little, skipped a little and laughed a lot. They felt very important using their private key to get into the school. The school was their world for a night. 
"They liked best to clean the assembly room. Johnny dusted the piano and, while doing so, ran his fingers over the keys. Katie sat in the front row and asked him to sing. He sang to her; sentimental songs of the time. 

"Sometimes Johnny went into one of his dances [...]. He was so graceful and handsome, so loving. so full of the grandness of just living, that Katie, watching him, thought she would die of being happy. 

"At two, they went into the teacher's lunch room where there was a gas plate. They made coffee. [...] Their rye bread and bologna sandwiches tasted good. Sometimes after super they'd go into the teachers' rest room where there was a chintz-covered couch and lie there for a while with their arms about each other. 

"At dawn, they left the school scrubbed, shiny, warm, and ready for the daytime janitor. They walked home watching the stars fade from the sky. They passed the baker's where the smell of freshly baked rolls came up to them from the baking room in the basement. Johnny ran down and bought a nickel's worth of hot buns hot from the oven. Arriving home, they had a breakfast of hot coffee and warm sweet buns. 

"They lived comfortably and it was a good life they had…happy and full of small adventures. 

"And they were so young and loved each other so much. 

"In a few months, to their innocent amazement, Katie found out that she was pregnant. [...] They were still very happy although Johnny was getting more and more worried as time wore on. 

"Towards the end of a frosty December night, her pains started. [...] She moaned and Johnny knew that the baby was on the way. He got her home and put her to bed without undressing her, and covered her warmly. He ran down the block to Mrs. Gindler, the midwife, and begged her to hurry. That good woman drove him crazy by taking her time. 

"They [the neighbor ladies] welcomed the midwife and shooed Johnny out of the place. He sat on the stoop and trembled each time Katie cried out. 


"While he drank and slept the night away, Johnny did not know that the night had turned cold and the school fires which he was supposed to tend had gone out and the water pipes had burst and flooded the school basement and the first floor."

Wow! 500 words is a lot!

This excerpt tells the story of how Francie Nolan came to be. Katie and Johnny, her parents, were both young and naive having only attained a sixth grade education. Set in the early 1900s, Johnny was a wanna-be entertainer while Katie kept the family grounded requesting instead that Johnny work with her at a nearby school after hours maintaining the fires and keeping the school clean. Full of love for Katie, Johnny dutifully gives up entertaining to help his wife. Katie's pregnancy comes as a shock for them both.

All of this sets the scene for the night Francie Nolan is born. Her father, anxious, worried, and scared, seeks comfort however he can find it when he is shooed out of his own home by the neighbors who have come to help Katie with labor. Johnny finds himself out drinking with his brother completely forgetting about his night time job and inevitably getting himself (and his wife) fired. Unable to tell Katie about his reckless behavior, Johnny takes a job as a singing waiter the next night sliding right back into old habits. Meanwhile, Katie receives good advice from her mom regarding her child: read to Francie often from Shakespeare and the Bible, encourage imagination, don't hold back the truth, and, most importantly, save 5¢ a day so that, one day, you can buy a piece of land. If you have a piece of land that you can pass down to your child, she will no longer be a serf constantly working for others her whole life.

While I haven't gotten past chapter 10 (pg 92) yet, I have once again found myself entranced with the beautiful story of the little girl that could. I'm looking forward to the next 400 or so pages! :)

Buy A Tree Grows in Brooklyn here.

Are you starting the year off with a good book? Do you have any reading goals for 2016? Be sure to join in with the blog hop and share some of your favorite books!

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  1. This is my favorite book from childhood. I remember reading where Frances Nolan was writing her reality and her teacher was unaware of her circumstances and wanted her to write happy stories. That part of the story was such a large window for me. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I absolutely love this post. I'm so sorry I didn't get a chance to read it yesterday. Thanks for hoping along with me. I hope to see you next month as well. I promise I'll be better at communicating what's going on.


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