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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943)

by Betty Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,693404309 (4.32)1 / 906
The story of the Nolan family, including daughter Francie, and life in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn during the early part of the 20th century.
  1. 81
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    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (rebeccareid)
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    The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls (JGoto)
  4. 50
    Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson (atimco)
    atimco: Both stories are semi-autobiographical and tell the story of a young, sensitive girl coming of age in a poor community. The heroines have similar family structures (attractive, hardworking mother, generally absent/weak father, younger brother who fits into his surroundings better than his older sister). The historical setting is very important to both works and almost acts as a character in its own right.… (more)
  5. 50
    'Tis: A Memoir by Frank McCourt (kiwiflowa)
  6. 74
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (weener)
    weener: Another superb girl's coming-of-age novel!
  7. 96
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (readerbabe1984)
  8. 31
    Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (kiwiflowa)
  9. 20
    The Walking People by Mary Beth Keane (JGoto)
  10. 10
    The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Set in 1939, The Tin Flute is also a beautifully told coming of age story, this time of a young, working class French-Canadian girl in Quebec.
  11. 10
    Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (LAKobow)
  12. 10
    Poor Man's Orange by Ruth Park (tandah)
  13. 10
    A Bag of Marbles by Joseph Joffo (Benaleer)
  14. 43
    The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (readerbabe1984)
  15. 11
    The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride (iMagic)
    iMagic: My all time favorite book. A must read. Ruth McBride was a force to be reckoned with. Raised 12 phenomenal children. One of them wrote this book about her life as the daughter of an orthodox Jewish rabbi who later married the man who taught her how to live.
  16. 33
    The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (readerbabe1984)
  17. 11
    I Love You Like a Tomato by Marie Giordano (someproseandcons)
  18. 11
    The Drive-In by Joe R. Lansdale (cometahalley)
  19. 00
    The Bandini Quartet by John Fante (cometahalley)
  20. 00
    Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (FutureMrsJoshGroban)
    FutureMrsJoshGroban: The style of writing and realism in the portrayal of the characters is very similar.

(see all 22 recommendations)

1940s (12)

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» See also 906 mentions

English (386)  Spanish (5)  Italian (3)  Catalan (2)  French (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (400)
Showing 1-5 of 386 (next | show all)
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 | May 25, 2022 |
Wonderful, classic story. I loved the narrator, as she added so many dialect details. I cried and laughed throughout and learned a lot about our country and immigrants in the 1940's. ( )
  BarbF410 | May 22, 2022 |
Non essendo nata con la camicia, il mito del self-made man (quello che alla fine ce la fa, non importa quante avversità debba fronteggiare) ha sempre avuto appeal su di me.

Così è stato anche con Un albero cresce a Brooklyn, la storia di Francie e della sua famiglia, che cercano di tirare avanti e migliorarsi a dispetto della loro sfortunata partenza. Tutti i personaggi di questa famiglia sono interessanti e con le loro caratteristiche peculiari: dalla femminilità pericolosa di Sissy alla granitica forza di Katie; dal sognatore Johnny alla fedele Mary.

Tutti i membri di questa famiglia puntano con forza verso l'obiettivo: far studiare i figli. A partire dalla nonna, nelle loro menti è stata ben instillata l'importanza dell'istruzione, a cominciare dall'alfabetizzazione: così, noi lettori li vediamo avvicinarsi alla meta un passetto – e tanti sacrifici – alla volta, da una generazione all'altra.

Siamo nei primi anni del Novecento e sognare il sogno americano forse era più realistico rispetto ai primi anni Duemila. In effetti, parecchia retorica da American dream mi è sembrata un po' eccessiva – o forse è solo colpa mia e della mia disillusione. Tuttavia, rimane un buon libro. E un buon sogno (che alle volte si realizza: bisogna ricordarsi di non dimenticarlo). ( )
  Baylee_Lasiepedimore | May 13, 2022 |
Did not record a comment at the time (such were those busy motherhood + career days) but still remember enjoying this sweet story of resilience, grit, and determination. Would probably glean even more from it to read today; Betty Smith aparently was commenting on many social issues, including those related to women. ( )
  MGADMJK | Apr 15, 2022 |
This is a long novel depicting a girl's childhood and maturity into her late teens. It's kind of like Anne of Green Gables, if Anne were to live in an impoverished family in a poor neighborhood with an alcoholic dad. It took me a long time getting into it because the author spent so much time describing activities that take place in this Brooklyn neighborhood in the different seasons of the early 1910s, and then a lot of time writing about the girl's alcoholic father. I could not stand him! lol But the girl and the author clearly loved and admired him despite his glaring shortcomings. I had a sense that this novel is the author's semi-autobiography, hence the details and the sympathy for the dad. Personally I think the book got a lot better after the dad passed away. Finally everyone in her family was likable! I was finally able to sympathize with the girl and became invested in the her joys and disappointments. Also, the girl's life took a turn for the better and I rooted for that, as she navigated the tensions of supporting her family and pursuing her dreams. ( )
  CathyChou | Mar 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 386 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Smith, Bettyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burton, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillard, Anniesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hall, BarnabyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kazin, AlfredAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagani, DanielaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pietribiasi, AntonellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quindlen, AnnaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stasolla, MarioIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
First words
Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York.
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)

The story of the Nolan family, including daughter Francie, and life in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn during the early part of the 20th century.

No library descriptions found.

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.
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Average: (4.32)
1 18
1.5 5
2 90
2.5 16
3 373
3.5 97
4 1171
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