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The Strength of Trees - Heather Bennett

Challenge # 6 - Literary Allusions

For the Literary Allusion challenge, I chose to be inspired by a novel that has had a lasting impression on many in our family. It was introduced to me by my mom, as her favourite book as a teen, I loved it. I then introduced it to my daughters who were also captivated by it. In fact, my daughter added the main characters name Francie, into her own daughter’s name. That book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith written in 1943. It is a powerful story of a young girl growing up facing life, life that includes birth, death, marriage and bigamy in a slow, sure, meandering way. It is a story filled with hope, resilience and determination.

There’s a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where it’s seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up and out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly…survives without sun, water and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it…

Betty Smith

I pieced several trees growing out of the cement, growing strongly and independently. Covered with greenery. I embellished each tree block with stitching to represent the changing seasons, as weather plays a large role in the book, the sweltering summers, the frigid winters bringing them all discomfort in their small Brooklyn flat. The ladder symbolizes the fire escapes where Francie, her parents and her brother spend time looking up at the stars and dreaming of a different life and dreams for the future.

Machine pieced, machine quilted, raw edge applique, hand stitching.

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