Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Book That Shaped My Life - A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

When I was a tween and read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, I never guessed the impact it would have on my future life.



Now that I'm an adult and re-visited A Tree Grows in Brooklyn I am amazed at how many parallels this story had with my own life and the insight I gained from having read it. 


"From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood."
-Betty Smith

Here are a few understandings I have thanks to Francie Nolan's world:

  • Insatiable hunger for books is a blessing
  • Hero-worshiping an alcoholic father, despite his flaws is a daughter's right
  • Tell the truth and then write the lies in your journal as stories
  • A brother can be a soulmate
  • Even if your aren't your mother's favorite, you can still form an unbreakable bond with her
  • The library is both a paradise and an escape
  • Reading to your children every single day builds an unshakable foundation for learning
Have you ever revisited a book and been awed by the influence it had on your life?

Thank you, Julie Musil for bringing me back to a story that has both shaped and validated who I am.

26 comments:

  1. I love these reflections on a Tree Grows in Brooklyn... very moving - very powerful!

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  2. I've never read this, but it sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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  3. What a fabulous post! I have never read this book- but I plan to go out and get it. I have heard such great things about this book and after reading how much it shaped your life I can tell it is a must read. Loved the understanding that you shared. I have revised a few books, like The Secret Garden, Grimms Fairytales, and a few other favorites and still enjoyed them. I read Catcher in the Rye in high school and liked it- but when I reread it I didn't like it in the same way.

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    1. Funny you should mention Catcher in the Rye. That's my next revisit. My kids, who are both in their early twenties are very into it right now which inspired my 2nd look.

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  4. Leslie, what a beautiful reminder of how Francie's love of books shaped her life AND yours. I'll bet the audio version brought forth a whole different level of understanding. Thank you for encouraging me to finish the story we both love.

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    1. Thanks right back atcha for bringing me back to this treasure.

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  5. Lovely! I revisited Anne of GG and felt very much the same as you did with this book. That book meant so very much to me! :)

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    1. Believe it or not, I'm reading Anne of GG for the first time right now. L-O-V-I-N-G it. How did I miss it all these years?

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  6. Awwww, you guys are so cool. I'm intrigued by the lessons you learned from the book. Sometimes its fun to revisit an old favorite.

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  7. I love that you read the book as a tween and then got to read it from a different perspective now. I first read the book in 2009 and it immediately shot to my Top 5 Books of All Time List. I sometimes wish I'd read it when I was younger but I wonder if it would've had the same impact. A book I read as a kid and later as an adult was A Separate Peace. I much preferred it as an adult.

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    1. Good to know. I remember plodding through A Separate Peace in English. I'm willing to give it a second chance.

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  8. When my first son was young, 2, I watched my sister's son during the summer. He was 9 or 10 and he had book reports he had to do. So I visited so old favorites-The Witch of Blackbird Pond-it still felt the same though I saw what the themes were better. And Island of the Blue Dolphins. I don't think I cried as a child reading that, but I sure did when we read it together. I guess when you're a mother you look at it differently when the brother dies and your daughter is left behind. It was heart wrenching and I felt the schools were making kids read books they weren't ready for. But the kids don't take it as hard as adults do. I know I didn't as a kid and I was a very emotional kid.

    Heather

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  9. Great post and comments!

    I laughed when I saw Anne of GG. That was my favorite. In some of my diaries from when I was around 11 or 12 I sound just like Anne in them. Haha.

    Before my mystery conference last year (in which I went costumed as Nancy Drew) I started re-reading Nancy Drew books. They are truly fun and entertaining. Great for stressful times.

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  10. Thanks for the inspiration! I remember books as being the place I could escape no matter what emotions were running through me. If I was mad at my parents, or annoyed at my brother, or sad about a disappointment at school, I could lose that feeling by reading. Thanks for reminding us why we write!

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  11. I actually read this during my college years and wondered why I hadn't read it sooner. I'd like to read it again since I pick up on new things during a re-read.

    Have a great weekend.

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  12. Loved to read your insights! Thanks for sharing, Leslie! :D
    I never read that book, but now I want to!

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  13. Great post and love reading all the comments. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. I need to read this one again. It's been many, many years. When was it published? I'll have to look it up.

    Have a lovely week. :)

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  15. Lovely! I revisit my Enid Blytons and other teen books all the time!

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  16. I read that book when I was a tween and the thing I really remember about it was that they threw away coffee and the mother said that everyone should have something in their life they can waste (or something like that, I'm probably remembering it wrong). I don't know why that stuck with me, but it did.

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  17. This is one of those books that I've always heard of but never read. I'm going to have to change that. Adding it to my list now ;)

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  18. I've never read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but if my local library has it, I'm about to.

    In my childhood I strongly identified with Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. I saw the movie when I was 5 or 6 and the list of things I had in common with her are a little uncanny. I thought my own father was better looking than Gregory Peck, but he didn't have as cool a voice. I never wore a ham costume though.

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  19. And so we are reminded why people write. Lovely post.

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  20. I'm floating on a cloud of Tree Grows In Brooklyn love. Thanks everyone.

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  21. It is such an interesting thing having this post of yours. I was interested with the topic as well as the flow of the story. Keep up doing this. lidocaine

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