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!