Online Reading Challenge – February Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Challenge Readers!

How did your reading go this month? Did you read something set in the 1900s & 1910s that you enjoyed? Share in the comments!

I read our main title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Even though this is a classic that was published originally in 1943, I had never read it before. I admit that I was a bit apprehensive before starting, but knowing that other people loved this book, I started the audiobook and pushed through!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn tells the story of a young girl coming of age at the start of the twentieth century in Brooklyn. Francie Nolan has both parts of her parents: her mother’s practical side and her father’s romantic nature. These differing parts war within her, but ultimately help her become the person she is at the end of the novel. Growing up, Francie has help from her parents and her various aunts, while dealing with her brother being her mother’s favored child. Francie inherited her father’s romanticism and love of beauty, which butted up against her mother’s incredibly practical nature and intense desire to know the truth. Despite low odds of survival, Francie is resourceful and does whatever it takes to make a better life.

So what did I think? It took me until 67% of the way into the audiobook (thanks Libby!) before I became fully invested in the characters and the story – hear me out! This book was a slow building read for me, which I have discovered is typical for books published at that time (and in my opinion, is also typical for most books that are labeled as ‘classics’). The first part of the book focused on setting the scene and building the family tree back from the main character, young Francie Nolan. It dealt heavily with talking about Francie as a young girl and her family, introducing her parents, brother, aunts, and other family members. While I appreciate having that information and agree said information is necessary to the story, at times it was hard to keep track of all of the new characters, which in turn pushed me out of the story.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, to me, is a prime example of Ranganathan’s third law of library science, “Every Book its Reader”. This law states that every book in a library must find its reader, which also means that each item in the library has a person that would find said item useful. While this title isn’t my favorite, I was able to pick out passages that resonated with me. On the flip side, there are others who have told me that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was a pivotal part of their reading journey and is, in fact, their favorite book. “Every Book its Reader” is very fitting.

Next month in March, we are traveling to the 1920s & 1930s.

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