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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943)

by Betty Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,101348311 (4.33)1 / 825
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1940s (10)
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English (330)  Spanish (5)  Italian (3)  Chinese, traditional (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (343)
Showing 1-5 of 330 (next | show all)
The story of Francie Nolan's coming of age, beginning at age 11 or so, and ending at 17. It is the story of her family: her alcoholic but loving father, her strong, hard-working mother, her younger brother, Neely, and a couple of aunts who make frequent appearances. It is a story of poverty in Brooklyn in the 1910s. It is a story of fighting to be your best self, no matter how many setbacks you face along the way. ( )
  fingerpost | Oct 2, 2018 |
Francie Nolan is the third person heroine of this wonderful story of growing up dirt poor but strong in Brooklyn in the early 1900s
Her family consists of mother Katie, Papa Johnny and brother Neely and Katie’s sisters Sissy and Evy. The family subsists on money earned by Katie as a cleaner as Johnny has a drinking problem. He’s a wonderful man and father but can’t provide. Francie provides the emotions, descriptions, dialogue, nuances and atmosphere of this very loving family which provides a strong moral compass for her and Neely.
We follow her life from early childhood to her departure for college and feel how she feels with every episode in her life. Brooklyn is a very important character as the streets and neighbourhoods come to life in Francie’s World.
What a great story, I wish I had discovered it years ago. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Sep 23, 2018 |
Great book. Francie Nolan is the "hero" of book nerd girls everywhere. :) ( )
  Borrows-N-Wants | Sep 22, 2018 |
This book is not your happy idyllic childhood/coming-of-age novel. It is sad. It is depressing. It is realistic for its time. The setting begins before the United States is involved in the war. Americans know that the war is coming at some point. Some are fearful. Others are excited.

Poverty is a huge theme in the book. I cannot imagine struggling to earn just a few dollars a week and yet this was "the norm" in New York and other cities across the nation. Education was expensive. If you wanted to go, you had to work your tail off to afford the tuition.

Francie Nolan lived a very tragic life. Her father's a drunk and doesn't really have anything going for him. He's not much of a provider. Her mother works a scrubwoman. Francie and her brother learned the value of a dollar at a very young age. They know that nickels, dimes, and pennies are not to be wasted on frivolous things. You stretch it as far as it will go. If you can stash some away for a rainy day, you were considered fortunate.

I think what's most depressing is the realization that hardship is all they knew. Going the library was an escape for Francie. She still had her imagination and a love of reading and writing to feed her mind and soul. Most people resigned themselves to the hard life. Francie had goals and she worked hard to achieve them.

Would I read this again? Probably not. While this was an "okay" book to read, I prefer something more light-hearted or witty. ( )
  caslater83 | Sep 20, 2018 |
Francie Nolan is one of the most complex and reverant portraits of a smart girl coming of age. I loved this book because of the characters and the encompassing sense of love that permeated the book. The kind of love that isn't touched by poverty, tragedy, or circumstance. I adored this book. ( )
  koharteh | Sep 19, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 330 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (72 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Smith, Bettyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hall, BarnabyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kazin, AlfredAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagani, DanielaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pietribiasi, AntonellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stasolla, MarioIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
There's a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly. . .survives without sun, water, and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it.
Dedication
First words
Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York.
Quotations
Francie came away from her first chemistry lecture in a glow. In one hour she had found out that everything was made up of atoms which were in continual motion. She grasped the idea that nothing was ever lost or destroyed. Even if something was burned up or left to rot away, it did not disappear from the face of the earth; it changed into something else—gases, liquids, and powders. Everything, decided Francie after that first lecture, was vibrant with life and there was no death in chemistry. She was puzzled as to why learned people didn’t adopt chemistry as a religion.
Dear God, let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well-dressed. Let me be sincere- be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt who gives her love too freely--to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Francie learns early the meaning of hunger and the value of a penny. She is her father's child--romantic and hungry for beauty. But she is her mother's child, too--deeply practical and in constant need of truth. Like the Tree of Heaven that grows out of cement or through cellar gratings, resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061120073, Paperback)

Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt who gives her love too freely--to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Francie learns early the meaning of hunger and the value of a penny. She is her father's child--romantic and hungry for beauty. But she is her mother's child, too--deeply practical and in constant need of truth. Like the Tree of Heaven that grows out of cement or through cellar gratings, resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive. Betty Smith's poignant, honest novel created a big stir when it was first published over 50 years ago. Her frank writing about life's squalor was alarming to some of the more genteel society, but the book's humor and pathos ensured its place in the realm of classics--and in the hearts of readers, young and old. (Ages 10 and older) --Emilie Coulter

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:00 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Young Francie Nolan, having inherited both her father's romantic and her mother's practical nature, struggles to survive and thrive growing up in the slums of Brooklyn in the early twentieth century.

» see all 16 descriptions

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