A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it as a girl growing up in Brooklyn but you can be an adult living in Georgia or Indiana and still love this book. Its author, Betty Smith, died this week back in 1972.
Do you have things in your home that you love but after awhile they seem to blend in and become sort of like wallpaper? Well, this happened to me recently, and it was coming across the date of Betty Smith's death that triggered my renewed attention to one of the best gifts my husband ever bought for me.
The two pages are framed and hang on my office wall. One is an ad by Harper and Brothers from (I believe) The New York Times Book Review (circa 1942) two weeks before the publication of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It tells the story of how the book came about, how the editors loved it - "For as soon as they read it the editors lost their heads and their hearts..." - how advance orders skyrocketed. Here's a description of the book itself:
"Betty Smith's novel was warm and salty and moving and, most of all, alive. Within the compass of her characters was all of humanity: the good, the bad, the pitiful, the ridiculous, and those with stardust in their eyes. But what made it so extraordinary was the incredible richness of universal experience - a remarkable achievement for any writer."
The second is also an ad by Harper and Brothers in The New York Times Book Review (April 1944) two years after the book was published. This one sums up some of what happened since the book's publication. Here's my favorite part of the page -
"Where do we go from here? Who knows? It's a big country. If we can get the paper to keep up with the demand, we feel certain that The Tree will break all records. All this has happened to a grand girl from Brooklyn and her first book..."
Hmm, any other girl from Brooklyn we can apply this to? Hey, you never know. You just never know.