One of my favorite books, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, has stuck with me during all the years since I first read it. With my enjoyment of that book, I've wanted to read more by Betty Smith. After years of wanting, I went to a bookstore and splurged -- this was one of the books I purchased.
It's not often that I feel torn over how to rate books. I'm a whole star kind of girl. But with Joy in the Morning I feel three stars is too low and four is too high. (If we were ranking it from one to five stars, the firth star being the highest rating).
This story isn't plot driven but it's still an entertaining read. Based in the 1920's, I had a hard time swallowing some of the portrayals and actions in the book as my knowledge of that time period and how American culture was is generally based on TV shows and little else.
Carl and Annie get married at a very young age (Annie just had her 18th birthday and Carl is still in college) and this surprises their families, as well as causes them to be heavily judged. I was surprised by this, my assumption was that everyone got married young in the 1920's. My surprise continued from there. The way Carl, at times, treated Annie made me want to hit him. He was handsy, rude, and demanding of a man's "right". Over the course of the book he strayed from his behavior and seemed to be more responsive to Annie's needs, which was good character development but didn't remove my initial distaste.
Annie is a likable character, but a little annoying. She is often labeled as a child due to her age and petite, youthful look. She has an innocence that you rarely meet in people and means well while being friendly to a fault. However, there is another side of her "childlike demeanor" that wasn't so sweet -- her mood swings. Her moods were up and down and she had so many tantrums they got old extremely fast.
Still, the book was simple good fun. It entertained me while I rode the train to and from work. I felt satisified to have gotten another does of Betty Smith.
One note, this book has one of the best quotes for book lovers:
“She went from room to room, floor to floor, stack to stack, reveling in books, books, books. She loved books. She loved them with her senses and her intellect. The way they smelled and looked; the way they felt in her hands; the way the pages seemed to murmur as she turned them. Everything there is in the world, she thought, is in books.”
Last Week's Review: Taking Woodstock by Elliot TiberNext Week's Review: Dancing with Mr. Darcy by Various Authors