A coming of age story focused on Francie Nolan growing up poor in the heavily immigrant district of Williamsburg in Brooklyn during the early 1900's. This is a book all about characterization and setting and both of these elements are portrayed with a simple and beautiful prose.
Brooklyn is practically a character in the book - it is brought to life with a heavy dose of affection and reverence for the neighborhood and the way of life, hardscrabble as it was.
And while I liked Francie I loved her Papa, Johnny Nolan, handsome,talented, charismatic, kind-hearted and sentimental but weak, unable to withstand the pressures of being responsible for a family. Even as he lets the family down and drinks himself to death, I saw him through Francie's eyes and my heart broke with hers. Every character, no matter how awful, was sympathetic at least in some tiny way.
It was a great read that went quickly despite having no page-turning plot. I really enjoyed getting to know the Nolans and their relations and neighbors - by the end they felt like folks I know though I have never met the like.