HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Loading...

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943)

by Betty Smith

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,502241304 (4.34)1 / 617
All member reviews
English (231)  Spanish (5)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  All languages (239)
Showing 1-25 of 231 (next | show all)
I read this book as a preteen and loved it, reading it again and again. I finally read it as an adult and appreciated it anew.
[a:Maggie Anton|79249|Maggie Anton|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1337899260p2/79249.jpg] ( )
  Maggie.Anton | Jul 18, 2014 |
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows Francie Nolan as she grows up in Boston as part of a poor, second-generation, American family. A major theme running throughout the book is Francie’s mother’s focus on seeing her children educated and giving them a better life than she herself had. Francie’s own love of reading and education was to me one of the most endearing parts of the novel. As a bibliophile, it’s hard not to fall in love with a precocious little girl who’s decided to read through every book in her library – what she thinks is every book in the world. This is a small spoiler, but I think the fact that Francie eventually got her education was crucial to my enjoyment of the book. I’m someone who prefers happy endings any way and to have someone so in love with learning be stuck working menial jobs forever would have just been too heart breaking.

Read more here... ( )
  DoingDewey | Jun 29, 2014 |
“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words.” ( )
  Meandu91 | Apr 23, 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 |
"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 |
This book is very much of its time. ( )
  PetreaBurchard | Feb 9, 2014 |
Has the same general feel as the Laura Ingalls Wilder books--that painstaking recreation of long-ago American childhood, with details so specific yet prosaic that they seem as though they must come straight from the author's personal memory.

Speaks plainly (and without moralizing) about uncomfortable topics like death and sadness and sex. That bluntness was one of the things I appreciated about the book. That and its depiction of a Williamsburg that is unbelievably different from the Williamsburg of today.

Francie is a great character--I loved her skepticism about the plots of the melodramas in the theatre. 3.5-ish stars. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
A classic coming-of-age novel for girls. Whether you're 13 or 103 this book is not to be missed.

Francie comes from a family so poor they sometimes go for days without food, but in reading this novel what always comes through is the love the family has for each other, the strength of character each member of the family has, the humor, intelligence and good old-fashioned Irish storytelling.

Furthermore, Francie is a lover of books, determined to read her way through every book in their local public library. Avid readers will recognize themselves in Francie, will love her for it, and will love Betty Smith's book. ( )
  bkwurm | Jan 8, 2014 |
This enduring story is a reminder that what matters most in good storytelling is having compelling characters. So much about this book violates so-called rules that writers are taught today. The point-of-view is distant omniscient. The author frequently tells vs show. The writing is at times straightforward to the point of being simplistic.

In some ways, the novel is more a series of anecdotes portraying the hardships and tender moments of Francie Nolan’s childhood. The plot progresses mostly because she gets older and wiser about the world. There’s no dramatic climax at the end.

Yet this moving tale of a girl growing up in hard times in early 20th century Brooklyn still manages to captivate the reader. After all, the hero’s journey is supposed to be about a character striving against all odds to reach a worthwhile goal While the plot may not be as tightly woven or action packed as some of today’s novels, there can be no question that Francie Nolan’s journey is heroic. We root for her the whole way, agonizing through her tough times and celebrating her triumphs.

This is a simple tale, beautifully told, that affirms nothing less than the resilience of the human spirit. ( )
  dlitwack | Dec 27, 2013 |
Francie Nolan has joined the ranks of one of my favorite girl characters. Although the book is set in the distinct and well-depicted locale of pre-World War I Brooklyn, NY, she is a type familiar to many of us here on LT: a thinker, a watcher, a writer, and above all a reader. The book opens with eleven-year-old Francie sitting on her fire escape, watching the life buzzing in the tenements around her and reading in the shade of the big tree which dominates the courtyard. Like Francie, the tree is tenacious, thriving in an environment that seems barely able to sustain life.

Francie's parent are Irish-American, children of immigrants, and poor, yet loving. Katie marries young, works hard, and tries to give her children a better life. According to her mother, Francie's grandmother, the road to American success can be achieved by reading Shakespeare and the Bible every day and saving pennies every week in order to someday own land of your own. Katie's husband, Johnny, is funny and talented, able to sing and dance his way into Katie's heart, but unable to hold a steady job due to his drinking. Despite their dire straights as a result, Francie loves her father, and he nurtures something in her that practical Katie cannot.

Francie and her younger brother Neeley don't feel deprived, because much of Brooklyn lives as they do, and in fact they enjoy many aspects of their life. Francie, however, has an insatiable thirst: for books, for knowledge, for life, and that sets her apart from other children her age. Being an outsider sharpens her powers of observation, and her thoughts and writing reflect it. Ambitious, Francie fanangles her way into a better school, and when forced to leave school and go to work to help support the family, she is able to get a job that not only pays well, but allows her to continue learning. Life is not easy, and Francie is forced to grow up in a hurry, but the spirit of the book is one of hope and redemption.

The author herself grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and her own life is the framework for Francie's story. As a result, the setting is vibrant with life, and the story rings true on a deeper level than simply the plot. Although I think young women would enjoy this as a coming of age story, I think the book has a richness and meaning that might not be appreciated without some life experiences behind one. Well-done. ( )
1 vote labfs39 | Dec 14, 2013 |
Very good book. Interesting book about being poor in Brooklyn in the 1900's. Reminded me of Angela's Ashes. It's about surviving. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
Love, love, looooove this book! One of the best ever written! ( )
  KristinaMiranda | Oct 26, 2013 |
This book is one of those you always see on lists of favourites or "must read" books. I guess I can understand that but it didn't grab me as I thought it would. It's not bad but I don't think it is as well written as it should be for a classic.

Francie Nolan is a young girl living in a tenement in Brooklyn with her brother, Neeley, and her mother and father. Her father is an alcoholic and works, intermittently, as a singing waiter. Because his money isn't enough to live on the mother has to clean apartments and the kids have to sell scrap. Even then the money for food, clothing and heating fuel is often lacking. Francie is a loner and a dreamer and a reader. The fire escape from their apartment is in the boughs of a tree and it is the perfect place to read and dream. Hence the title.

We follow Francie from her pre-school years until she is working and attending college. Her story is certainly one of triumphing over adversity and it seems to be autobiographical. It is astonishing that a young woman from that background could go on to write best-selling books and dramas. Francie's grandmother was right that the key to improvement is reading and writing. ( )
  gypsysmom | Oct 16, 2013 |
3.5 stars

This book tells the story of Francie as she grows up in Brooklyn in the early 20th century.

I liked the book, but wasn't wowed by it like so many other people. It took quite a while for me to get into it at the start. I guess there is also some disappointment that it didn't live up to everyone's glowing reviews. Overall, it was still good, just nothing to really “write home about” for me. ( )
  LibraryCin | Oct 1, 2013 |
One of my favorite books of all time, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a book I purchase for each of my nieces as they make the journey from child to adult, and so far, each of them counts this book among their all-time favorites as well.

A coming-of-age story, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn spans across several years shortly after the turn of the 20th century and deals with such issues as poverty and alcoholism around the time of World War I, but the main theme is about rising above adversity and difficulty to succeed.

Beautifully written, Betty Smith tells her tale in an engaging and timeless way. My two older nieces (ages 20 and 16) both love this book as much as I do. ( )
  skatoulaki | Sep 12, 2013 |
I thoroughly enjoyed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and I don't understand why every high schooler in the country isn't assigned this book. This taught me WAY more about my own life than all those Jane Austen books ever did. I'll admit that it slows down about 75% of the way through, but you're so in love with the characters by that point that you'll stick with it anyway. Highly recommended! ( )
  JLSmither | Aug 22, 2013 |
I read this book many years ago as a young woman and loved it. Now many years later, it still is a wonderful story of a young girl growing up surrounded by poverty but maintaining an innocence of heart. There is not one ounce of cynicism in Francie's entire body; something that is rare today.

I read many of the negative reviews from young people who have been required to read the book. It is so difficult for them to get past the differences of today's age and then; however, hopefully some will have inspiring teachers who will be able to get them through the details enough in order to see the universal story of perseverance and strength of family.

This book is not a page turner, has dated dialogue and writing style, and is probably not for everyone. However, it is a warm, pleasant, inspiring read that should at least be tasted. ( )
2 vote maryreinert | Aug 17, 2013 |
This book had an enormous influence on me growing up, including among other things, my career choice. it was one of the first full-length novels I ever read, albeit a bowdlerized Readers Digest version, I identified very strongly with Francie Nolan and her story, even to the extent of adopting catchphrases from the book, much to my friends' and family's bemusement, and the emotional resonance stayed with me for years. But it was out of my orbit for decades, until within a short space of time I found a copy in a second-hand shop and then the new reprint edition, and rediscovered it all over again, even better because with the often raw and shocking stuff , including fairly explicit sexuality, which had been missing from my kiddie version, it gained even more power. More then 40 years on, it still has the power to bewitch me, and I'm happy to proclaim it the definitive book of my reading life. ( )
  drmaf | Aug 8, 2013 |
I am so glad I read this book--it's absolutely wonderful. Wise, warm and heartbreaking. And great historical information. I would never have thought anything could pique my curiosity about the history of Brooklyn! ( )
  lesleyannemcleod | Aug 2, 2013 |
I really enjoyed this book, it did transport you to a different time and place, but the ending left me a little cheated, hence the 4 stars. ( )
  NHNick | Jul 8, 2013 |
I can't believe I'd never heard of this book before! What a poignant and honest tale of a girl's growing up out of childhood, in a tough, poverty-stricken Brooklyn. It was slow reading at times but gradually sucked me in until its powerful end. I wonder what I would've thought of it had I read it as a teenager? The story seems so wise, and real, addressing even a young girl's budding sexuality, which must've been controversial topic back in 1943.

I was particularly struck by Katie, the mother: straight-forward and sharp, fully embracing responsibility for her children's well-being, her alcoholic husband, and also for her own choice and determination to marry said-husband, with both feet on the ground. I hope I can be as honest with my own kids, as Katie was with Francie, no matter how hard!

Reading the book somehow reminded me of reading To Kill a Mockingbird: the feeling that the world may have its ugliness, but that one can still have faith in the goodness and beauty of humanity. ( )
  emanate28 | Jun 4, 2013 |
One of my favorite books of all time. Must read. ( )
  morribro | May 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-25 of 231 (next | show all)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
25 avail.
380 wanted
5 pay14 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.34)
0.5
1 8
1.5 5
2 64
2.5 16
3 226
3.5 76
4 752
4.5 136
5 1258

Audible.com

Three editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 91,649,485 books! | Top bar: Always visible