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I have always loved this book, and I don't even really know why! Maybe it's the grit and determination of the main character, Francie, and her younger brother, Neeley - maybe it's her lovable family: her parents, Johnny and Katie; her aunts Evy and Sissy; and other characters we meet along the way - Officer McShane, Frank & Flossie, Drummer the horse, storekeepers, people Francie passes on the street every day. She's a lonely child, a quiet-hearted child, but she knows she must rise above her circumstances to make a better life for herself. Growing up dirt-poor, chasing penny after penny, lying about her age in order to work, Francie is an intelligent girl who leans on faith, simplicity, and hard work to get where she wants to be. You will fall in love with her and her story. I could read this book over and over again and not get tired of it :)
This is one of the most hopeful books I've ever read. I never read it in high school. It's amazing!
"and that where the hole trouble is" thought Francie. "we're too much alike to understand each other because we dont even understand our own selves. Papa and i were too different persons and we understood each other."
Francie on her relationship with her mother
This amazing book was as good to read as an adult as when I read it as a 12 year old. It really is a classic.
I loved this book. It is an honest coming-of-age-story about a young girl. I loved the multicultural setting of Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the height of immigration to New York City. An American classic, much better than the movie. Such a delightful read! (submitted by JM)
What a beautiful story. I can't believe I have overlooked it for so long. Francie's life is like that tree that grows in the backyard of her Brooklyn apartment. It finds a way to thrive no matter what the circumstance. As I read Francie's story, I made notes on so many phrases and paragraphs throughout the book.
There is a pivotal moment in Francie's life when her teacher teaches her the difference between truth and fiction. After confessing to her teacher that she has concocted a false story so that she could take a small pie home for herself, the teachers says, "In the future, when something comes up, you tell exactly how it happened but write down for yourself the way you think it should have happened." This was an epiphany for 10-yr-old Francie. In conjunction with this idea, there is a quote in the appendix of the edition I read from Betty Smith's daughter: "She often said about 'Tree' that she didn't write it the way it was, but the way it should have been."
I would also add that the foreword by Anna Quindlen is a wonderful addition to this printing. Having seen her speak at a library event last spring, I could hear her voice as I read the forward. It was quite a wonderful preview of this classic story of urban struggle and triumph. Highly recommended!
Simple and straightforward, but yet magical in its familiarity and universality. A classic for a good reason.
Just like "To Kill A Mockingbird" (which was written by Harper Lee) - "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" (which was written by Betty Smith, aka. Elisabeth Wehner) is definitely another true classic of American literature penned by a female author.
Smith was 46 when she wrote this book. It was her own experiences as a young girl (growing up in poverty) that served as the framework for this first novel. Upon its initial publication in 1943 it was an immense success.
This touching, heartfelt, coming-of-age story clearly addresses many issues, such as, survival in the slums, dealing with an alcoholic parent, and the tenacious determination to rise above difficult circumstances.
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn opens in the year 1912 where we meet 11-year-old Francie Nolan who relies on her fertile imagination and her love of reading to provide a temporary escape from the poverty that defines her daily existence.
Betty Smith, subsequently, wrote 3 other novels in her lifetime. She died in 1972 at the age of 75.
A classic story at the turn of the century about growing up poor in Brooklyn by parents who have problems and aspirations for their children. A great book about family, things that bring us together and ultimately motivates us. Finding good and inspiration in people.
Some classics don't seem to hold their own through time. This one recreates the period so well that I felt engaged and immersed in that Brooklyn. Terrific writing and great character development.
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is the story of living and wanting and hoping. It centers around a Brooklyn girl and her family in the early 1900s. Smith has truly captured what it means to be human in this debut novel. She recalls childhood with such insight that it is easy to forget you're reading.
It was a pretty good book, but contrived and lacking in character development in favour of the plot.
I loved this book and I'd just like to give a quick review. Its about a poor family named the Nolans living in the slums of Brooklyn where they struggle to keep themselves together.
When their father dies around the children's 8th grade graduation, their whole family must work to survive. The protagonist, Francie, is left with the main job making the most money for the Nolan family therefore severly lowering her chances of finishing school and becoming a writer.
A beautiful story set in early 20th century New York. Despite it's time and place, this is truly a timeless read with themes that still resonate today.
Once kept as a controlled material in many public libraries, this story of immigrant struggles in 1910s Brooklyn is a classic for a reason. The heroine is an odd duck from her peers, a reading, thoughtful child whose life parallels that of the authors. A genuinely important book. Although often taught in high school, I think older readers would grasp certain situations better. Also, it's a quiet book that's pulled along mainly by the force and hope of its gentle, strong-willed character.
This is one of my favorite books. I started it over summer vacation, and I couldn't put it down. I finished the 500 page book in less then two days. I would recommend this book to everyone, though it can be slower at times. There are some mature themes in this book, so young children should not read this book without an adult censoring it first. Definitely a classic worth reading.
Betty Smith's prose transforms the era with finite details of setting and character. I was totally engaged in Francie's narrative which offered such a realistic portrayal of a working class Brooklyn girl growing up in impoverished Brooklyn with a delightful sense of optimism and humour.
I was surprised that this book is recommended for girls because I thought some of the content was really mature. Maybe some people think that's why it's such a good book, but I was glad I didn't read this till I was an adult. It's really well-written and interesting, but not one of my favourites. Still, it does tell you a lot about what life was like back then, and how poor people were.
Great book...so far
might be a little too slow for some readers but a good read
If you liked Jeannette Wall's The Glass Castle you might enjoy A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
My brother saw the movie and urged me to see it. Instead I was able to rent it from the library. A family with challenges and told through the eyes of the daughter. Although written decades ago, it is a wonderful story.