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Editor’s Note

“Coming-of-Age Classic...”

This classic coming-of-age introduces the now-famous arboreal metaphor for socioeconomic diversity, generational differences & personal development.
Scribd Editor

The American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Topics: Childhood, United States of America, Family, Coming of Age, Immigration, Heartfelt, Female Author, American Author, 20th Century, Bildungsroman, Brooklyn, Female Protagonist, Realism, 1910s, New York City, Poverty, Realistic, Emotional, Debut, and Urban

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061803024
List price: $12.99
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I'm pretty sure I read this book ages ago, as a child, but I didn't remember a thing about it. Reading it this time around was like reading it anew and I adored it. It reminded me in many ways of John Steinbeck, especially East of Eden, with it's sweeping, knowing look at humanity and what makes us beautiful and what makes us ugly, etc.
The characters are unforgettable and totally heartbreaking (the father! ) and the setting (Brooklyn, 1912-1918) is really interesting and informative. The book is full of little details about people's way of life in the early 20th century.

I highly, highly, highly recommend.
more
As I wrote in my updates , at first I was a bit disappointed. I guess I just expected a totally different book and nothing happened.It started out a bit slow.

Well I am so glad I kept reading cause this is such a great book! I can see why this is a classic and why after so many years this book is still loved by many.

There are a lot of details in this book but it made me really see the picture of Brooklyn in those days. Loved the main character and her family.
I did not want it to end.
more
Wow. Such a beautiful story on every level. And Betty Smith-- what a remarkable woman and writer. Thomas Helm's quote, "My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter," is certainly embodied in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.more
This is one of my all time favorite books. I love the slow character development of Francie and how we see right in to her thoughts. I felt like this story could have been written at any time and in any place. I felt I got a real feel for Brooklyn at the time and really enjoyed learning about the pace of life and the hardships that people faced then.more
Read all 134 reviews

Reviews

I'm pretty sure I read this book ages ago, as a child, but I didn't remember a thing about it. Reading it this time around was like reading it anew and I adored it. It reminded me in many ways of John Steinbeck, especially East of Eden, with it's sweeping, knowing look at humanity and what makes us beautiful and what makes us ugly, etc.
The characters are unforgettable and totally heartbreaking (the father! ) and the setting (Brooklyn, 1912-1918) is really interesting and informative. The book is full of little details about people's way of life in the early 20th century.

I highly, highly, highly recommend.
more
As I wrote in my updates , at first I was a bit disappointed. I guess I just expected a totally different book and nothing happened.It started out a bit slow.

Well I am so glad I kept reading cause this is such a great book! I can see why this is a classic and why after so many years this book is still loved by many.

There are a lot of details in this book but it made me really see the picture of Brooklyn in those days. Loved the main character and her family.
I did not want it to end.
more
Wow. Such a beautiful story on every level. And Betty Smith-- what a remarkable woman and writer. Thomas Helm's quote, "My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter," is certainly embodied in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.more
This is one of my all time favorite books. I love the slow character development of Francie and how we see right in to her thoughts. I felt like this story could have been written at any time and in any place. I felt I got a real feel for Brooklyn at the time and really enjoyed learning about the pace of life and the hardships that people faced then.more
Loved, loved, loved. Smith drew me into Francie's world and let me stay and sit for a while. I felt like I was actually living there, felt like I was feeling what they felt, going through what they went through. I wish I could have read this back when I was a kid. For all the dreary lonesome world it was with Francie there was always hope alive in all things. I had to take away one star just because of Katie's much professed love for one child clearly over the other. I'm not a parent yet and it made me incredibly sad that this could happen. Loving and connecting with kids differently, sure. Loving one so much more? Heartbreaking.

Also. Kids in my family need to read this and see how good they have it. Pshh. Kids these days.more

This book has been on the periphery of my consciousness for most of my adult life. However, it was not on the syllabus when I was at school or at university, which may explain my failure to read it until now. I am so glad that I finally decided to listen to the excellent audiobook narrated by Kate Burton. I wish I had not left it so long, because I love this novel. Rarely do I find myself both laughing out loud and weeping while reading the one book (or, as in this case, listening to an audiobook). With this one, I did both frequently.

The story of Francie Nolan's childhood and young womanhood, living in a poor family in 1900s Willamsburg in Brooklyn is extraordinary. Smith, who drew on her own background when writing the book, unflinchingly portrays poverty, hunger, alcoholism and unemployment. Her characters are real people, with dreams, hopes and aspirations and also with flaws. Time and place are vividly evoked and Brooklyn is as much a character in the novel as the Nolan family and their relatives.

Smith manages to give the impression of a memoir - of events remembered rather than events imagined. Most of the narrative is related from Francie's point of view. However, the points of view of other characters, particularly that of Francie's mother Katie, are also explored. The switching of point of view is both a strength and a weakness of the novel. Its adds to the reader's understanding of and compassion for secondary characters. However, it also disturbs the sense of the novel being a memoir.

If I had any other criticism to make, it would be that the novel is on the long side for its content. That said, as I finished listening to it, I wished that I was still in Williamsburg with smart, perceptive, creative Francie, her tough, determined and resourceful mother Katie, her kind, loving, but fatally flawed father Johnny, her brother, her aunts, her grandmother and all of the other people who make up Francie's world.

This is a beautiful novel and Kate Burton is a wonderful narrator. I'm very glad that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has moved from the periphery of my consciousness to somewhere more central. I am also very glad that I got to spend time with Francie Nolan and her family. They will stay with me for a long time.more
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