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

by Betty Smith

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,345294278 (4.34)1 / 692
English (280)  Spanish (5)  French (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (290)
Showing 1-25 of 280 (next | show all)
An incredible story of overcoming adversity and how it shapes your life. I loved Francie and didnt want this story to end. This story reminded me a lot of Angela's Ashes. It will stick with me for a long time. ( )
  Koren56 | Feb 4, 2016 |
So many reviews were already written about this book. So I only thank want to thank a very good friend for recommending and lending me this gem. I had very special hours reading it. I laughed and cried with the characters and enjoyed reading about their lives in a country and a time far away from my own, but nevertheless finding similarities between my life and my feelings and theirs. ( )
  Ellemir | Feb 1, 2016 |
This book reminds me of Henry Roth's CALL IT SLEEP - though I think this book wallows and winds differently; it calls to a more romantic realism. Poverty is almost a character in this novel, but Francie is the star that shines in her battle against all odds. A timeless story. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
I read it when I was a teen and loved it. Am going to hunt up the book to read again and see if I like it again. ( )
  Greymowser | Jan 23, 2016 |
How have I not read this before?! Such a wonderful snapshot of life and the human struggle to become more than what we are and to leave a legacy of something more that what we are. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
How have I not read this before?! Such a wonderful snapshot of life and the human struggle to become more than what we are and to leave a legacy of something more that what we are. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 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. ( )
  lemotamant898 | Jan 18, 2016 |
I liked it. Read it after reading another book that noted it was a favorite book among soldiers during WWII. In a way, it reminded me the books Plainsong and Brooklyn. ( )
  Charlie-Ravioli | Jan 18, 2016 |
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

★★★★★ + ♥

This is one of those classic books that I somehow managed to miss earlier in my life. And what a misfortune it is that it took me so long to get to this wonderful book!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is not a fast-paced story. It’s the slow, smooth coming-of-age story of Francie Nolan and her family. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. I adored Francie from the very beginning and I could not put this book down. Her and her family were very relatable, at least to me. Even though this was written in the 1940s and takes place in the very early 1900s, it was still quite relevant today. I was rooting for Francie the whole time and I was so pleased with the ending. It was well written. I can see why this is a classic and this is one of the few that I will reread throughout the years. Love love love.
( )
  UberButter | Jan 18, 2016 |
Since this is a classic, I honestly expected something more sedate, more pedantic, and less interesting. Instead, I discovered a quirky, charming, poignant, honest book that felt very modern. In style, it could have been written by an excellent writer today, but the details of life probably wouldn't have felt so real or believable.

I love coming-of-age books, but this is even more. It's a nearly epic story of Francie's family in the immigrant slums of Brooklyn, from before her birth and through most of her teens. They struggle to persevere through poverty and other difficulties, but this generally isn't a somber book; Francie's perspective is aware but appreciative. The depth of the writer's understanding (Francie's in retrospect) is touching. We discover her extended family's secrets and flaws, why each person is lovable; we ache for their heartaches and we delight in their joys. I loved this book and loved Francie, the observant little girl who treasured life in Brooklyn. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 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. ( )
  motavant | Jan 17, 2016 |
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

★★★★★ ♥

This is one of those classic books that I somehow managed to miss earlier in my life. And what a misfortune it is that it took me so long to get to this wonderful book!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is not a fast-paced story. It’s the slow, smooth coming-of-age story of Francie Nolan and her family. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. I adored Francie from the very beginning and I could not put this book down. Her and her family were very relatable, at least to me. Even though this was written in the 1940s and takes place in the very early 1900s, it was still quite relevant today. I was rooting for Francie the whole time and I was so pleased with the ending. It was well written. I can see why this is a classic and this is one of the few that I will reread throughout the years. Love love love.
( )
  UberButter | Jan 16, 2016 |
This is a wonderful classic coming of age novel that I think everyone should read. ( )
  kimberwolf | Jan 16, 2016 |
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

★★★★★ ♥

This is one of those classic books that I somehow managed to miss earlier in my life. And what a misfortune it is that it took me so long to get to this wonderful book!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is not a fast-paced story. It’s the slow, smooth coming-of-age story of Francie Nolan and her family. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. I adored Francie from the very beginning and I could not put this book down. Her and her family were very relatable, at least to me. Even though this was written in the 1940s and takes place in the very early 1900s, it was still quite relevant today. I was rooting for Francie the whole time and I was so pleased with the ending. It was well written. I can see why this is a classic and this is one of the few that I will reread throughout the years. Love love love.
( )
  UberButter | Jan 16, 2016 |
Set in the early 1900's in Brooklyn, NY, the story is narrated by Francie Nolan the oldest child of Kate and Johnny. To say that the family is poor would be a gross understatement as the 4 Nolan's (including younger brother Neely) rarely have enough food, warm clothing or fuel for their heater. Johnny is a handsome Irish singing waiter who, although he loves his family desperately, is a drunk who is unable to keep a steady job. Kate is the beautiful daughter of strong willed immigrant parents. Francie is a good child, obedient and hard-working, also a gifted writer and does well at school but Francie is always aware that Neely is her mother's favorite. When Johnny succumbs to his life of hard-drinking school is over for Francie because the family needs the wages she can earn but Neely is able to continue his studies. Francie is determined that she will get an education somehow and she manages to enrol in college courses without a high school diploma. Kate insists that she needs to do more for Neely as Kate knows that Francie will always be alright.

Truthfully I hesitated to listen to this book on audio as I had tried to read the novel awhile ago and was bored. The audio, read by Kate Burton, was very well done and held my interest throughout. I really like Francie and admire her character very much. Although Kate is a devoted mother I disliked the fact that she overtly favored Neely and did not realize what a gem she had in her eldest daughter. I am glad that I finished the book and it is one that I will always remember.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
The story of Francie Nolan and her family growing up in Brooklyn in the early 1900's. I feel inlove with Francie and wanted to know more about what happened to her. Sad in parts but a great book. ( )
  RachelNF | Jan 15, 2016 |
I remember reading this as a child, though much of it must have been over my head. My parents were very progressive in educating us about sex, so I may have had a better idea than most children about what was going on. The Vintage Book Circle had a wonderful discussion of this book. We were all very impressed by the depth and complexity of the characters. We all had favorite moments. We appreciated the hopeful, upbeat positive outlook of these powerful people in spite of their dire circumstances. I cheered for Aunt Sissy when she confronted Francie's teacher. I loved the part where Francie goes out on the fire escape with her glass of ice water and peppermint chips. I had no fire escape, but I was always trying to find a spot like that as I was growing up. I sucked root beer barrels with my water and found hidey places on the roof, in the bushes and in my walk-in closet. This is a very special book. ( )
  njcur | Oct 23, 2015 |
This story is set in Brooklyn in 1912 through 1917. It follows the life of a poor family, the Nolans, mainly from the point of view of the precocious Francie. I really liked it, I thought it was an easy read, the characters were likable and relatable. I even liked Johnny (the drunken father), I have a soft spot for characters who are truthful with themselves. He knew he was a drunk, he tried to do right by his family, but he never denied what he was. I think stopping drinking is what actually killed him, he was going through withdrawal and that is why his hands shook so. I loved that Francie had a love of reading and how her mother cultivated it. I understand Katie's desperation to give her kids a better life than she had herself, I think that is what all parents want. I can relate to the being poor, although as a kid we weren’t that bad off, or if we were my parents did a better job of hiding it that Katie did. I didn’t like the ending though, the whole novel felt so real and gritty, and then the fairytale came true that they had enough money and the kids could finish school thanks to Daddy Warbucks, I mean officer McShane. If Francie had continued to fight and put herself through school it would have seemed much truer to the story to me and I would have been happier. But overall I liked the book.
For additional reviews please see my blog at www.adventuresofabibliophile.blogspot.com
  Serinde24 | Sep 27, 2015 |
I enjoyed this book. However, it is on so many people's favorite lists that I expected more. Nice story, but there are other coming-of-age stories that have had more of an impact on me, Jean Stafford's Boston Adventure, for one. ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
I enjoyed this book. However, it is on so many people's favorite lists that I expected more. Nice story, but there are other coming-of-age stories that have had more of an impact on me, Jean Stafford's Boston Adventure, for one. ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
I enjoyed this book. However, it is on so many people's favorite lists that I expected more. Nice story, but there are other coming-of-age stories that have had more of an impact on me, Jean Stafford's Boston Adventure, for one. ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
This book makes me appreciate the advantage I had in my life start over billions of other people, and think how I used it. It also makes me better understand and respect the achievements and difficulties of others.

You may not think of yourself as "the one percent", but if you have a college degree for example, you are in the top seven percent of the lucky and rich people in this world. ( )
  valdanylchuk | Aug 26, 2015 |
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! ( )
  Lesley-Anne | Jul 24, 2015 |
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 |
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