“A person who pulls himself up from a low environment via the bootstrap route has two choices. Having risen above his environment, he can forget it; or, he can rise above it and never forget it and keep compassion and understanding in his heart for those he has left behind him in the cruel upclimb. The nurse had chosen the forgetting way. Yet, as she stood there, she knew that years later she would be haunted by the sorrow in the face of that starveling child and that she would wish bitterly that she had said a comforting word then and done something towards the saving of her immortal soul. She had the knowledge that she was small but she lacked the courage to be otherwise.”― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” a historical fiction of Brooklyn in the early 1900s has it all. From the socioeconomic conditions of immigrants working to sustain themselves to health care to the education system to politics and then World War I, Francie Nolan, a strong-willed and determined teenager who never went to high school outperforms much older women as a factory worker, a reader at a newspaper-clipping bureau, a stenographer, and even goes to college without ever attending high school.
This amazing great American classic is a microcosm of American history at the turn of the twentieth century, and a harbinger of times to come that we are living out now a hundred years later. Some things have changed for the better, but many social issues persist even today.
This book first published in 1943 was filled with memorable and provocative quotes about society that still produces strong reactions as you read through the lens of our modern eyes.