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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (original 1943; edition 1947)

by Betty Smith, Richard Bergere (Illustrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,933269286 (4.34)1 / 669
Member:fuzzi
Title:A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Authors:Betty Smith
Other authors:Richard Bergere (Illustrator)
Info:Harper & Row Publishers (1947) Hardcover, illustrated book club edition
Collections:Your library, Favorites, TBSL, Best of 2012
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Brooklyn, children, poverty, girl, TBSL

Work details

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (1943)

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English (259)  Spanish (5)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  All languages (267)
Showing 1-5 of 259 (next | show all)
Another book I've been meaning to read for a long, long time. A beautifully written coming-of-age story with wonderfully crafted characters and a vivid sense of time and place. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
While reading When Books Went to War, I learned that this book was one of the favorites of GIs during World War II. And that the author became a pen pal to many of them who wrote to her after discovering the joys of pleasure reading for the first time. I just had to read the book and find out for myself what those GIs saw in thebook.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn tells the story of Francie Nolan, a young girl growing up Brooklyn in the early years of the 20th Century. Readers also get to know her younger brother, her parents and their extended family. They didn’t live easy lives, and knew what it was to be hungry. Readers also see the extreme sacrifice was necessary for parents who wanted ensure that their children lived an easier life than they did. We learn how children were expected, even at very young ages, to contribute financially to the households.

And, yet, this was now a downer of a book, not by a long shot. It shows how people can survive; even thrive in the harshest of environments. Of course, the story is set in an era when our much talked about “safety net,” wasn’t part of the vocabulary. But had it been available at that time, it’s likely Francie’s parents would not have taken advantage of such “charity.”

This was a story that moved along, had engaging characters, and was simply written without too much drama or angst. I can see why new readers would be attracted to it. ( )
  NewsieQ | Apr 21, 2015 |
I first read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn nearly nine years ago and wondered back then why I had not read it sooner. It was not required reading for me in high school in the 1980s. I was thrilled when I saw this on my 8th grader's English class reading list for this school year -- I like to read what my kids are reading in school. Just finished reading it again and fell in love all over again with this book.

Francie is a memorable character and I really felt for her every time she encountered various difficulties, though not presented in a maudlin way, throughout her childhood life. Other characters are memorable too, and there's a lot I still remembered from my first read.

I definitely would re-read again and again -- perhaps every ten years or so. I'm sorry that my oldest two were not required to read this book in the school system they attended. I hope they will someday. As for my eighth grader, he liked this book -- he had to ask me about quite a few things that they probably didn't go into deeply in class (i.e. when Francie "became a woman" (menstruation) or when she received a special underwear set). I enjoyed talking with him about the incidents and characters of this book.

A rare five-star from me. It's interesting, though, that the author's other novels did not quite measure up to this one. I read "Joy in the Morning", not long after reading ATGIB (as my son and his class called it) the first time around -- it was good but not as good as ATGIB. ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Apr 20, 2015 |
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I first read it in high school, probably 46 years ago, at least! This time I listened to the audio version and it was wonderful; great narrator. It made me smile to listen to this story about Francie Nolan's growing up in Brooklyn (where I lived in 1956-1957). It's a timeless classic and I only wish there was a sequel to it. It's our work's book club pick for this month, so I can't wait to discuss it. If you haven't read it, you MUST. Love love love it! ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I first read it in high school, probably 46 years ago, at least! This time I listened to the audio version and it was wonderful; great narrator. It made me smile to listen to this story about Francie Nolan's growing up in Brooklyn (where I lived in 1956-1957). It's a timeless classic and I only wish there was a sequel to it. It's our work's book club pick for this month, so I can't wait to discuss it. If you haven't read it, you MUST. Love love love it! ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Smith, Bettyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Betty Smithmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, Bettymain authorall editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kazin, AlfredAfterwordsecondary 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 (2)

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:37 -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 14 descriptions

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