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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by betty smith
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (original 1943; edition 2001)

by betty smith, anna quindlen (Foreword)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,301None319 (4.35)1 / 596
Member:Larkken
Title:A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Authors:betty smith
Other authors:anna quindlen (Foreword)
Info:harper perennial (2001), Paperback, 493 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:fiction, historical fiction, children, New York, Brooklyn, childhood

Work details

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Author) (1943)

20th century (98) alcoholism (51) American (105) American literature (151) book club (46) Brooklyn (235) childhood (60) classic (368) Classic Literature (35) classics (225) coming of age (284) family (98) favorite (47) favorites (49) fiction (1,133) growing up (38) historical fiction (137) immigrants (61) literature (110) New York (240) New York City (126) novel (145) own (68) poverty (182) read (143) to-read (199) unread (57) USA (36) YA (64) young adult (105)
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English (228)  Spanish (4)  French (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (235)
Showing 1-5 of 228 (next | show all)
"A lie was something you told because you were mean or a coward.
A story was something you made up out of something that might have happened.
Only you didn't tell it like it was, you told it like you thought it should have been."



"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words."

"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 into 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." ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
"A lie was something you told because you were mean or a coward.
A story was something you made up out of something that might have happened.
Only you didn't tell it like it was, you told it like you thought it should have been."



"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words."

"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 into 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." ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
This is one of the more heart wrenching novels I've read in years, this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic about an ethnically-blended family in Brooklyn just before the first World War, told through the young protagonist, Francie Nolan. Her mother Katie is an uneducated but proud mother, struggling to provide for her children and secure a better life for them. Her loving but alcoholic husband is a meager provider. This is before there was any societal safety net at all, and many times it's a question whether the family will be able to survive another week or not. The novel is semi-autobiographical; the sequences about the family's many and practiced strategies for keeping fed and sheltered ring with brutal truth. Katie Nolan knows in her heart that the children will have a chance in life if they can only get a decent education, something which Francie desires more than anything. But many times the struggle for survival overshadows everything. This is a powerful and emotional story that draws us into the family's hardscrabble life and makes us care for them, rooting for their small successes and reeling with the many setbacks and tragedies they endure. The sadly sweet ending left me teary-eyed, and hoping that the safeguards a modern and more compassionate (?) society now have in place are enough that this kind of life is rare indeed. ( )
  burnit99 | Mar 27, 2014 |
Smith has such a lyrical style of writing. her descriptions are flawless, when reading her book you see through her eyes and live her life. The scene in the library is still one of my favorites. ( )
  Laurie.Schultz | Mar 15, 2014 |
Why did I wait so long to read this book?? I thoroughly enjoyed this coming of age story with its loss of innocence and message of hope. Read a full review on my blog, Terri Talks Books http://www.territalksbooks.com/2014/02/a-tree-grows-in-brooklyn-by-betty-smith.h... ( )
  TerriB | Feb 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 228 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Smith, BettyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaReadersecondary 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 13 descriptions

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