Sunday, January 6

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

My Grandma always was an avid reader.  When I was a girl she belong to the Reader's Digest Book Club.  She used to get two or three novels, classics, in the mail at a time and once she was done reading them I was free to borrow them.  Many times she let me keep them.

Some of the books were abridged, condensed versions of the complete Sherlock Holmes works for instance, but many of the books were in their original complete state.  All of the books were hardbound, with  fancy wanna-be-leather covers and gold or silver embossed titles.  Often times the books contained a few illustrations to go along with the story.  

I remember the excitement and anticipation of going to Grandma's and getting a new book.  It was one of the treasures her house held, along with steno-pads and very sharp pencils. Grandma would let me look over the book collection and I would go hide in one of the empty bedrooms that had once belong to my mother and read away.  Other times she would pop in for a visit and drop books off.  

I don't recall how old I was when I first read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (by Betty Smith), probably a little older than the heroine of the story Francie on "book 1".  The book was bound in green pleather and had gold embossed lettering; and it was love at first glance.  

At first I was just so proud of myself for being able to read such a long book.  I even boosted about the number of pages in it when I did a book report on it for school.  But there was something else too the book, aside from the 500 plus pages.  

What that something is, I cannot fully say.  I do not have the correct word for what it is that makes this book so special to me.

I have read this book a dozen or so times since I first read it.  I get a craving to read this book.  It's similar to the craving that Francie gets for a good Jewish pickle at the end of a long winter when nothing else tastes good.  After eating the pickle she can go back to eating her everyday meals.  I get that way about pickles myself and this book is the same way.  After reading it, I feel renewed.

I hadn't read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in about four years and my craving for the book was getting to be an all time high, but I wasn't able to locate my copy (the same green bound edition Grandma gave me) since we moved.  And then I found it this summer.  It was in a box in the basement that had seen too much moisture and the book had molded.  The cover was curling over, the fake leather was peeling off the stiff thick cardboard that made the cover, it smelt dark and dank and mold grew on the edges.  Into the dumpster it went.  

I looked into buying another copy, but never hit the order button.  I checked to see if it was at my library, but it wasn't.  I thought about getting the movie, since I've never seen it; but didn't.

And then on Christmas morning I opened a gift from Husband and there it was.  The book I had been longing for.  

I read it in three days.  And as with every other time I read it, I understood more of the story.  I related deeper to the characters.  As with every other time reading it, it was like the first time reading it.   I knew the story line, yet I still laughed and cried like the first time.  I was moved.  I felt complete and relaxed when I was done.  Since then I have re-read certain chapters and pages; and I am sure if I started back on page 1 tomorrow I could re-read the book through and through again.  

If you have never read this book I highly recommend reading this book.  It was named one of the top 100 books from the last century; and there is good reason for that.


Sue said...

I am glad you have such fond memories of Grandma, I hope my owe grand kids can say the same about me some day.

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