Saturday, September 26, 2009
In Which Trai Reviews 'Joy in the Morning'
The Book: Joy in the Morning
The Author: Betty Smith
How I Found It: Probably through looking up A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and seeing it was one of the author's other works.
The Review: A lot of the time, I like stories about the little things. I like books a lot of people would consider boring. Stories about people just living their lives are of great interest to me, and I believe I've already stated I'm kind of a romantic.
I read that Joy in the Morning was a cute story about a couple's first year of marriage in the 1920s, and thought it sounded interesting. I've read that it is usually found lacking when read after A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, so I decided to read it first. After doing so, I'm really eager to read Tree.
The story follows Carl and Annie Brown. They are both from Brooklyn; Carl is about two years older. They have been dating for a few years when Annie decides to travel from Brooklyn to the Midwest, where Carl attends law school, to marry him on her eighteenth birthday. This impulsive decision is not looked upon kindly: Carl's mother cuts him off; Annie's mother constantly rubs it in how Annie has hurt her. Both imply that Carl has been forced into the situation by a possible pregnancy, an insinuation which hurts Annie.
But Annie is indomitable, determined not to let anyone get her down, and so she and Carl embark on married life with their love and little money to support them. Carl struggles through school and work; Annie finds that her large amounts of reading make her well-suited to be a writer, especially a playwright. They face many hardships and unexpected obstacles, but they always manage to stay strong and together in the face of these conflicts.
I loved, loved, loved this little story. It put a smile on my face through a very long bus ride, and I laughed a good couple times. I could definitely relate to Annie's love of books and her desire to be a writer. What I liked most was that this story really was about getting married young. It didn't fall into the normal pitfalls-- Carl was not an abusive jerk; they do stay together; and even if Carl is smarter than Annie, he is very patient with her and helps her understand things she does not. He treated her just the way a good husband should have, and I was pleased to see the author did not just throw in cheap drama the way many young-married-couple stories do today.
I will have to read Tree Grows in Brooklyn just to see if the author can capture my heart a second time; I'm pretty sure Joy has become a favorite of mine. To anyone who likes stories about life, or about enduring love, this is a great one.