A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | A Book Review

“Goodbye Francie.”

Having just read the last sentence of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn seconds ago, I was overwhelmed with comfort.

This coming of age story that follows Francie Nolan in the early 1900’s presents the mysteries of life in a way that prompts readers to reflect on their own early discoveries.

It was gifted to me over a year ago, and I remembered the placement it took on my shelf after re-reading The Glass Castle — where main character Jeannette Walls fawns over the adventures of Francie Nolan.

“Always there had been something dreamlike… so many things seemed like dreams to her… or was it all real and true an it was that she was the dreamer?”

Although this novel takes place in Brooklyn during the early 1900’s, the authors’ prose is timeless. She composes the story of Francie in a manner that illustrates her experiences as present and pressing.

“People always think that happiness is a faraway thing,” thought Francie, “something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains — a cup of strong hot coffee when you’re blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you’re alone — just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness.”

Through a variety of hardships from death to heartache, Francie understands her position in this vast world. It is then made known, on the very last page, that her story is not over yet.