A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Book - 2001
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Jun 22, 2021

Unfortunately I finished this book before I even started. I'm sure it's wonderful but I can't stand books that just drag... and I mean, D-R-A-G. The introduction by Anna Quinlan was really interesting and frankly told me most of what I needed to know.
I know that you're thinking that I give up on books too easily and it's true. I have a short attention span. I used to try to read to page 100 before giving up on a book, but now I realize that 100 pages is too much. In fact, it's a LOT.
These days I don't have a lot of time, which is why if I can't get into a book within the first chapter, I move on.
There are a lot of wonderful books out there and I'd love to be able to get into them all, but I like to compare it to trying on clothes. If it doesn't fit right away, it mist likely never will. Thank God for movie versions, which in a lot of cases are just as good if not better.

Mar 11, 2021

A lovely read. Everyone should read it in their youth then again in their elder years.

Jan 28, 2021

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a lighthearted and funny story following Francie Nolan, a young girl living in Brooklyn at the turn of the century. The novel is no other than a simple coming-of-age story in which the reader experiences the norm for someone growing up in poverty, America during the war, and what it looks like to be a young girl in the early 1900’s. The book was a totally new experience for me, not in the sense that I do not enjoy a good coming-of-age story, but in that I have never read one set in this time period. A ‘coming-of-age’ was different then than it is now, and this novel offers you a new perspective of what it could have been like growing up in a time where people didn’t have money to throw around, and where people worked so hard to make ends meet and simply just survive. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is also interesting in that the girl narrating the story, Francie, is so aware of her surroundings, but also oblivious in the way that what she does to make a penny or get food on the table is normal for her, and possibly incredibly abnormal for us. Her daily routine as a child was to collect junk from the street to make a few cents, which might then give her some spending money to buy a few pieces of candy. This was the usual thing for lots of the children described in the book, but something I know I have fortunately never had to think about. A Tree Grows in Brookly is an easy classic novel to consume and take in, sharing the perspective of a young girl at the turn of the century and how she looks optimistically at life and change. I would rate ATGIB 4/5 stars, only because there is no direct plot the story follows, but is an easy and entertaining book that I am glad I read!
@readingmouse of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

I read this many years ago and loved it. An elderly friend of mine gave me an original copy of it as a gift several years ago. I have cherished it. An online book club I follow was doing it for September and that was enough for me to finally pull it off the shelf and read it again. It had nagged at me for a long time to read it again in the original copy. I did not remember much of the story and thoroughly enjoyed it for a second time. It is one of the greatest classics. For me it surpasses most of them. Betty Smith, the author is a very interesting person as well. The book was actually written as semi-autobiographically. I'd suggest anyone with a 12 year old give them this book to read.

Aug 11, 2020

I read this book to fulfill the goal read a book set in the 1920's (although most of the book takes place before then) It is also #68 out of the 300 best books featured on Listopia. I liked it. It was a slow start at first, but it ends well. I wouldn't mind reading a sequel if their ever was such a thing.

JCLHeatherM Jun 10, 2020

One of my new favorite books, Betty Smith's eternal classic may be my favorite new book of the year. Young protagonist Francie Nolan has dreams as big as the sky, and when she discovers books, the world becomes hers for the reading. The next step is finding the film for a mandatory viewing (haven't seen it yet!)

Apr 28, 2020

First written in 1943 by Betty Smith, this book is read even today. Considered an American classic, it is the story of Francie Nolan, an 11 year old girl whose coming of age story captures the reader’s interest from the beginning. Growing up in poverty in the 1910s in Brooklyn, Francie’s imagination and perseverance eventually take her out of poverty into a world of education. The author manages to maintain your interest despite the simple life described in a somewhat autobiographical tale. I really enjoyed this book.

Mar 11, 2020

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 :)

Feb 23, 2020

This is one of the most hopeful books I've ever read. I never read it in high school. It's amazing!

Jan 17, 2020

"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

Jun 26, 2019

Just life, nothing personal. Excellent!

Jun 09, 2019

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)

Mar 22, 2018

Such a beautiful and often melancholy novel.

Nov 29, 2017

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!

HMWLibrary2017 Jul 14, 2017

Simple and straightforward, but yet magical in its familiarity and universality. A classic for a good reason.

Mar 05, 2017

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.

Mar 02, 2017

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.

Oct 23, 2016

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.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 05, 2016

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.

Mar 30, 2016

It was a pretty good book, but contrived and lacking in character development in favour of the plot.

Dec 16, 2015

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.

Nov 23, 2015

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.

CRRL_VirginiaJ Jul 21, 2015

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.

Apr 01, 2015

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.

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