Joy in the Morning

I read Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn years ago ( in middle school I generally looked for the longest books the library had since we were only allowed one a week). It was a story filled with hope, but also many trials which were equally impressive to a young girl (both the narrator and myself).

Joy in the Morning also has struggles, but this time around the hope was more prominent to me. The book describes the first two years of marriage for Annie and Carl, who together face many trials–poverty, in-laws, Carl’s juggling work and law school, pregnancy, and even just adjusting to living together.

What struck me most was the believability; though set in 1927, much of it would be similar if happening today. I can’t imagine being married at eighteen, and yet I know several girls I grew up with who have husbands and/or kids. Smith writes with the frank simplicity of a true storyteller, and the story is all the more endearing for it. Despite their struggles, something just bubbles inside Carl, and especially Annie, so that they are able to not just survive but smile. It is a combination of love, hope, dreams, promise–in essence, joy.

Annie, especially, has a talent for making friends and getting people to like her. She is impulsive but unselfish, and her sometimes unorthodox ways have a habit of inspiring confidence. She loves reading and writing, and though a high-school dropout not by choice she even secretly sits in on college English classes to improve her craft. That to me is dedication.

I know this is one I’ll want to come back to, and the worn cover on my copy suggests that someone else felt the same way.

This book is for the “Dusty” category in the 9 For ’09 Challenge, as well as the “Time of Day category for the What’s in a Name 2 Challenge.

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Published in: on March 15, 2009 at 10:13 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] This passage from Joy in the Morning struck me at the time, and I made a mental note to recall it for this week. Betty Smith really […]

  2. […] A book with a “time of day” in its title: Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith 3. A book with a “relative” in its title: Dreams from my Father, by […]

  3. […] Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith (probably been sitting around for about five […]

  4. I am glad that you found the right time to read this novel.

    Thanks for being in 9 for ’09.

    I knew a couple who also struggled while he was in law school. She had already graduated from college and was looking for a job, when she broke one foot. After she had recovered and was getting ready for another round of job interviews, she broke the other foot!

    They were very pooor for at least 1.5 years, until her health was fine again.

  5. […] book with a “time of day” in its title: Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith (overlap with 9 for ‘09 […]

  6. […] Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith: An honest, exquisite look at poor newlyweds. […]


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