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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (original 1943; edition 1998)

by Betty Smith

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,164318251 (4.33)1 / 770
Member:hzaino
Title:A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Authors:Betty Smith
Info:Perennial Classics (1998), Edition: 1st Perennial Classics ed, Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (1943)

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(see all 21 recommendations)

1940s (10)
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English (305)  Spanish (5)  All (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All (316)
Showing 1-5 of 305 (next | show all)
Story of a poor family in turn of the twentieth century Brooklyn and how Francie, the heroine, tries to better herself. Smith gives us a loving portrait of that time, place and characters and is not afraid to tackle a sexual predator and an unwed mother, taboo subjects at the time of writing.

Highly recommended. ( )
  janerawoof | Jun 19, 2017 |
A wonderful, poignant coming-of-age story, capturing pre-World War I Brooklyn as seen through the eyes of young Francie, a girl of grit and determination. As a social documentary, it captures the struggles of the poorer working class of Brooklyn of the time period and warns of how pride can be both an anchor of protection and a lodestone that can drag you down. As a coming-of-age story, Smith has provided the perfect protagonist in Francie, capturing all of her hopes, fears, dreams and the crushing realities of growing up while trying to rise above the teeming milieu, even when all of the cards seem to be stacked against you. After reading this one, I can see why it was such a popular book when it first came out in 1943 and why it remains such a popular book, even today. ( )
2 vote lkernagh | May 21, 2017 |
It's a sweet story set in a very challenging time period (the start of WWI). What I love most about this story is the idea of "pulling yourself up by your own bootstrap" and trying to live the American Dream. The Nolan family is filled with what feels like insurmountable adversity. They struggle to make ends meet and have to deal with an unreliable, alcoholic father (Johnny Nolan). Although, Johnny is unreliable and an alcoholic, he is a wonderful father to Francie and Neely. I love how Francie's love for her father never wavers despite his alcoholism and how they seem to understand one another. The story is narrated by Francie and as the story progresses Francie grows and begins to understand the workings of the real world. In this realization, she begins to lose her innocence and start to see her surrounding in a new way. The story conveys many important themes (Family, Poverty, Coming of Age and Alcoholism) but beyond that the story is reflective of a era where life was hard earned. It was a beautifully crafted story that transported you to the early 20th century. ( )
1 vote jthao_02 | May 18, 2017 |
I had long wanted to read this because I had heard so many good reviews. It's the brilliant story of one young girl growing up poor in Brooklyn early in the 20th century. Francie would love this book list, because she loved to read. Reading was her passion. Ms. Smith passionately believes that people who read have an unbreakable salve against the ills brought on by poverty. ( )
  KyCharlie | Apr 3, 2017 |
A re-read. I had forgotten how dark this book is. The themes of prejudice and intolerance are sadly resonant of our current climate. People love to blame the poor for their plight, even if they're children. ( )
  sblock | Mar 12, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 305 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (73 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Smith, Bettyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hall, BarnabyCover artistsecondary 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 (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 14 descriptions

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