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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

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10,573305269 (4.34)1 / 716
Member:Arseny
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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1940s (5)
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English (293)  Spanish (5)  French (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (303)
Showing 1-5 of 293 (next | show all)
"The last time of anything has the poignancy of death itself. This that I see now, she thought, to see no more this way. Oh, the last time how clearly you see everything; as though a magnifying light had been turned on it. And you grieve because you hadn't held it tighter when you had it every day.

What had Granma Mary Rommely said? 'To look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.'"

Published in 1943, this classic coming-of-age novel is set in Brooklyn in the first two decades of the 20th century. The second-generation daughter of Irish immigrants, Francie Nolan grows up in debilitating poverty but with a love of reading and a delight in life. Slowly paced by today's standards, the story unfolds simply and poignantly, providing a glimpse of early 20th-century life. With both optimistic and sober overtones, the themes of family, immigration, poverty, and growing up emerge through a varied cast of characters who are vividly memorable. ( )
  EBT1002 | Jun 24, 2016 |
The book that broke my reading hiatus of the past year. A good one to do so with, I think.

I picked this up at the library a couple days ago. My first time there (shameful since we've been in this area for a couple years now), I was walking around in the daze of "what to check out, what to check out" and this title popped off the shelf at me. And I was back in Mrs. Atkins' Creative Writing class during memoir-writing listening to her tell us about her love of Francie.

I can imagine waxing on a bit about this book myself someday. Not necessarily about Francie so much so as all the characters combined, along with the very "human" dialogue and expression. It paints a very clear picture of kids growing up too fast, how the place you live and the people you live with become parts of you, and how life's pretty good even if it isn't so grand as long as you have your own personal Brooklyn. ( )
  lamotamant | Jun 23, 2016 |
This is the story of a young girl growing up at he beginning of the 20th century in poverty circumstances caused by her father's alcoholism as well as her parent's lack of education. Francie is told that she needs a good education by the adult members of her family and she strives toward success but is hampered by teachers who are unsupportive of the "poor" kids.

Many aspects of the differences between the early 20h century and current day are obvious . I read this book for my book club and though few of us were enthusiastic about the book, it did garner a great a discussion. ( )
  cyderry | Jun 2, 2016 |
This was a reading assignment in school when I was about 13. I read the book again years later and liked it much better than when I was forced to read it. In reading it the second time I realized that I had seen the movie made from the book. The story was, over all, excellent. The central character was so realistic; I expected to find her sitting in my living room. ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – B. Smith
Audio performance by Carrington Macduffie
4 stars


Francie Nolan grows, as the tree does, in early 20th century Brooklyn. Francie understands hunger, poverty, and the rough and tumble of the streets. She also knows family solidarity, the value of honest work and the desire for a better life. Her story evokes a very specific time and place, but it is also a timeless tribute to the human condition.



…….spoilers………

This book has been recommended for ages 10 and up. I think I was between 11 and 12 years old the first time I read it; against my mother’s wishes. After so many years I was only able to remember a vague outline of the book. A few of the ‘mature’ scenes were fixed a bit more in my memory as the particular features that troubled my mother. I did not remember how much the book was a vehicle for social and psychological commentary. I certainly did not realize how much Francie’s life was similar to my grandmother’s childhood. My grandmother was the eldest of thirteen children. Like Francie, her father was an alcoholic. My great-grandmother cleaned houses for a living.

When Betty Smith wrote of Francie’s desperate desire for a doll, I thought of my grandmother’s story about her one and only doll. It was a special doll with eyes that opened and closed. Her brothers took a hammer to its head to see how the eyes worked.
( I remember one of my great-uncles saying “Geeze, Gladdy, I’ll buy you another doll! Will you quit talking about it!)

My great-grandfather must have been like Jonny Nolan. He contributed very little to supporting his huge family, but I never heard my grandmother or any of her siblings say anything against him. (As far as they were concerned, he was a talented writer. He wrote poetry.)

When Katie Nolan gives birth to her youngest child with only her sisters to help, I remembered the first time my husband met my great–grandmother. She pulled him right in and gave him the full family tree, explaining that only her thirteenth child had been born in a hospital, “And I don’t think he was ever paid for.”


Both of my maternal grandparents left school at 14 to help support their families. My paternal grandfather had less than 3 years of formal schooling. My mother was born in the year of the stock market crash, and although she did graduate from high school, there was little cash to spare in her childhood. My childhood was quite different; protected from the ‘mature’ topics of a book like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I’m very glad that I returned to this book. It reminds me of where I come from and of who worked hard to make my life so easy.


( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
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» 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 (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 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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