Monday, March 29, 2010
8. A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN
Betty Smith 1943
A novel about Francie Nolan and her family, growing up poor and struggling in Brooklyn with her mother Katie, her father Johnny who is an alcoholic and Neely, her brother. It's an endearing account of her everyday life with a big emphasis on education and music.
"The tree knew. It came there first. Afterwards, poor foreigners seep in and the quiet old brownstone houses were hacked up into flats, feather beds were pushed out on the window sills to air and the Tree of Heaven flourished. That was the kind of tree it was. It liked poor people."
"The library was a little old shabby place. Francine thought it was beautiful. The feeling she had about it was as good as the feeling she had about church."
"Oh, magic hour when a child first knows it can read printed words!"
"Francie is entitled to one cup each meal like the rest. If it makes her feel better to throw it way rather than to drink it, all right. I think it's good that people like us can waste something once in a while and get the feeling of how it would be have lots of money and not have to worry about scrounging."
"To look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time."
"Books became her friends, and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography."
"He drew notes on the blackboard; he drew little legs on them to make them look as though they were running out of the scale. He'd make a flat note look like humpty-dumpty. A sharp note would rate a thin beet-like nose zooming off it. All the while he'd burst into singing just as spontaneously as a bird."
"Well, a person can only cry only so long. Then he has to do something else with his time."
"No! I don't want to need anybody. I want someone to need me... I want someone to need me."