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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A, Target Edition…
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A, Target Edition (original 1943; edition 2008)

by Betty Smith

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,420355312 (4.33)1 / 841
Member:funtoo2
Title:A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A, Target Edition
Authors:Betty Smith
Info:Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2008), Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (1943)

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1940s (11)
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English (339)  Spanish (5)  Italian (3)  Catalan (2)  French (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (353)
Showing 1-5 of 339 (next | show all)
From the moment she entered the world, Francie Nolan needed to be made of stern stuff, for growing up in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn, New York 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 raw with honestly and tenderly threaded with family connectedness. 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.
  dneirick | May 9, 2019 |
This is a book that I somehow missed reading when I was young, but it is no less a must-read now. Considered a classic coming-of-age novel, it's the story of a young girl growing up in New York's early 20th century - beginning with horses and gaslight, moving on to inventions of convenience such as electricity and automobiles. While the book is interesting to read from the point of view of how life was so different then, what makes it memorable are the things in life that never change: Young girls yearning to grow up and succeeding despite family dynamics, poverty, alcoholism, and life's hard knocks. ( )
  PhyllisReads | Apr 27, 2019 |
A wonderful story about a girl and her family, living in the slums of Brooklyn, NY. Through hardship she still finds hope, and through loss she still searches for love. This was a story that I wanted to go on and wished it hadn’t ended so soon. This is a book that I will keep so I can read it again and again. Highly recommended! ( )
  BookLove80 | Mar 29, 2019 |
I tried to read this many years ago and set the book aside midway through. At that time, I don't think I understood or appreciated what Betty Smith was trying to achieve or the beauty of her writing. This is not a fast paced book filled with constant action. It is about events though. It is about poverty and somehow managing to thrive or find some joy. It is about family and relationships. It is about personalities and the goodness that exists beneath otherwise flawed characters. It is often about the thoughts that occur during the humdrum of daily life. Mainly it is about growing up and the revelations that go along with that experience.

I adore this passage (mild spoiler):

“Oh, magic hour when a child first knows it can read printed words!

For quite a while, Francie had been spelling out letters, sounding them and then putting the sounds together to mean a word. But, one day, she looked at a page and the word "mouse" had instantaneous meaning. She looked at the word, and a picture of a gray mouse scampered through her mind. She looked further and when she saw "horse," she heard him pawing the ground and saw the sun glint on his glossy coat. The word "running" hit her suddenly and she breathed hard as though running herself. The barrier between he individual sound of each letter and the whole meaning of the word was removed and the printed word meant a thing at one quick glance. She read a few pages rapidly and almost became ill with excitement. She wanted to shout it out. She could read! She could read!

From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came to adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived.” ( )
  This-n-That | Mar 8, 2019 |
A quietly deep story of one girl's coming-of-age in the years before World War I. Told in a simple, frank style, filled with vivid detail and unforgettable characters that are true enough to break the heart. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 339 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Betty Smithprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 16 descriptions

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