Review From User :

Some books give young girls dreams of ponies, kittens, and visions of eternal love. This book is not one of them.

If I were to make a metaphor, this book would be the equivalent of the ice bucket challenge. It offers no platitudes, it is harsh, realistic. It slaps you in the face with reality, a reality that is very rarely pleasant.

And it is also one of the best young adult books I have ever read.

I first read this book as a young teen, perhaps when I was 13 or 14. The main lesson I learned from it: Life is not fair. Life is hard. Life is harsh. People suffer. Good things do not come to those who wait. Even if you're the best person in the world, life can still slap you in the face, and you can only take what fate has handed you.

Even if you strive to be the best child you can be to your parents, they can still show favoritism to your younger sibling, for no reason than the fact that your younger sibling was determined through some undetermined reason to be superior. Parents can and will play favorites, despite your best efforts.

Even if your mother works her hands to the bone to support you and your brother, you will secretly love your wastrel, drunkard of a father more, for unfathomable reasons. Because human nature doesn't always make sense, and you can't help who you love.

Even if you're committed to common sense, you will have your heart broken. People can and will take advantage of you, no matter how much you try to guard yourself.

This book is a bleak one. It is about a young girl named Frannie, a child born of desperately poor parents. A quiet child, a shy child, one who takes comfort in books. I think we can all relate to that. A girl mature beyond her years, due to the hardships of the poor Brooklyn life in which she grew up, but a girl who is naive, all the same.

She knew her family was poor, but little children never notice much of that. Her mother has to stretch a loaf of bread over an entire week, but there is magic in how she does it so that there is variety in their meals. She takes joy in playing with her brother, in getting a few pennies to buy a bit of candy at the dime store. In buying a pickle and reveling in the sourness of it. Simple joys that only children know. It is not until later in life that reality becomes all too clear.

Her neighbors are vibrant, colorful. Above all, they are people. They are human. This may be a silly thing to note, but not all books are about people, not all books have humans that seem human. Too many books have characters who are little more than typescript on a page. The people in this book seem alive, from the grumpy old man who yells at her down the street, to the sadly tragic woman who enters into a costume competition---and wins---for wearing what judges feel to be a symbolic dress with just one arm, not realizing that she is too poor to afford both sleeves, and the one arm is from a salvaged outfit.

If you wanted a true portrait of the people of Brooklyn in the early 20th century, you will find no better depiction in this book.

No, this book doesn't offer any rainbows, there are no daydreams. Not all little girls need constant beauty and joy and complacency. All girls, however, need a good dose of reality. They need to know that they, too, can survive and thrive, despite what life throws at them.

Because if a girl like Frannie can survive like a blade of grass sprouting from the hard concrete of Brooklyn, so can they.

Media Size : 16.9 MB