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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
13,111367308 (4.32)1 / 868
The story of the Nolan family, including daughter Francie, and life in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn during the early part of the 20th century.
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    atimco: Both stories are semi-autobiographical and tell the story of a young, sensitive girl coming of age in a poor community. The heroines have similar family structures (attractive, hardworking mother, generally absent/weak father, younger brother who fits into his surroundings better than his older sister). The historical setting is very important to both works and almost acts as a character in its own right.… (more)
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    RidgewayGirl: Set in 1939, The Tin Flute is also a beautifully told coming of age story, this time of a young, working class French-Canadian girl in Quebec.
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    iMagic: My all time favorite book. A must read. Ruth McBride was a force to be reckoned with. Raised 12 phenomenal children. One of them wrote this book about her life as the daughter of an orthodox Jewish rabbi who later married the man who taught her how to live.
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    FutureMrsJoshGroban: The style of writing and realism in the portrayal of the characters is very similar.
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(see all 21 recommendations)

1940s (12)
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English (351)  Spanish (5)  Italian (3)  Catalan (2)  French (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (365)
Showing 1-5 of 351 (next | show all)
Some well-meaning adult in my life gifted me this when I was a young teen, thinking it was a book I would enjoy. So I read it. And I hated it. I think this is one of those books that adults think children will get inspiration from because that's what the adults get from it. NOPE. I came out of this one (as a young teen) thinking it was in turns boring and gross and wondering why I wasted my time on it. One of the biggest results is that I refuse to re-read it now, when (as an adult) I might actually get something out of it. ( )
  ca.bookwyrm | May 18, 2020 |
Here is a summary of what the book is about. From the moment she entered the world, Francie Nolan needed to be made of stern stuff, for the often harsh life of Williamsburg demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior—such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce—no one, least of all Francie, could say that the Nolans’ life lacked drama. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the Nolans’ daily experiences are tenderly threaded with family connectedness and raw with honesty. Betty Smith has, in the pages of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, captured the joys of humble Williamsburg life-from “junk day” on Saturdays, when the children of Francie’s neighborhood traded their weekly take for pennies, to the special excitement of holidays, bringing cause for celebration and revelry. Betty Smith has artfully caught this sense of exciting life in a novel of childhood, replete with incredibly rich moments of universal experiences—a truly remarkable achievement for any writer.

This book was written a long time ago. When I was in high school it was required reading. I am glad I read this book again. It is a classic. The book gives a glimpse of what life was like back then in 1912 and beyond how people lived. After reading this book it makes you grateful for this things you have today.

Happy Reading Everyone! ( )
  ErinAyin | May 8, 2020 |
"Biography" of a girl growing up in early 19--'s, very poor, uneducated. Her view and her coming out of that "lower class."
BEAUTIFUL BOOK ( )
  evatkaplan | Apr 30, 2020 |
My motivations for reading this book were entirely selfish. Emotionally reeling from an intense fantasy book, I wanted something "dull" to cleanse my palate and help settle my tumultuous thoughts.

Well.

While some parts were slow, and I still can't quite seem to fall in love with the Brooklyn landscape, the detailed descriptions of Francie's everyday life were at times beautiful and thought-provoking.
  Pascale1812 | Apr 16, 2020 |
I'm not sure what I expected when I started this book but it wasn't what I got. There is no goal or mission for Francie except for growing up and surviving in the slums of Brooklyn. Yet, the book was engrossing. It was like Betty Smith shot a film of life in Brooklyn during this time period and then translated it to a book. I felt what it was like to be Francie. She is strong, beautiful, smart and thoughtful. She might just be one of my favorite heroines in literature.

On top of that, Betty Smith had some of the most beautiful writing I've seen anywhere. More than once, there were paragraphs that I had to reread just because they are so beautiful and that there is so much said that I was afraid I missing parts. If you're in the mood to read a classic, then pick this book up and give it a try. ( )
  melrailey | Apr 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 351 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Smith, BettyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burton, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillard, Anniesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hall, BarnabyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kazin, AlfredAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagani, DanielaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pietribiasi, AntonellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quindlen, AnnaForewordsecondary 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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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.
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