Yup, we’ve got that one

And more than one million more. Become a member today and read free for two weeks.

Read free for two weeks

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
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
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
I have just been reading up a storm this weekend, all over the map emotionally, and had to crack open one of my all time favorite novels. Seriously, I think I've read this book at least once, if not twice, every year since I was in the fourth grade. Love love love, always.more
I'm so sad that this book had to end. It is a beautifully written, heart-warming story. I look forward to re-reading it some day.more
[January 2013]
It's been almost 5 years since the last time I read this, and that's maybe 4 years too many. In the beginning the matter-of-fact writing style was bugging me, but then I fell back into Francie's life and everything else ceased to matter.


[March 2008]
I can't be objective about this book. If I were, I'd probably rate it lower and actually have a real review to post, but I can't do it. This is the ultimate in comfort reading for me, and has been since I first encountered it in the seventh grade. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my hearty potato soup on a cold winter afternoon--a little starchy and almost too thick, but creamy and delicious all the same.more
3.5, actually. One of the best novels to read if you're looking for in-depth characterization. A true American bildungsroman. On the other hand, not the best novel to read if you're looking for something plot-driven.more
I lost track of how many times this book made me cry. It hit so close to home because there were a lot of similarities between myself and Francie Nolan, the main character. An older sister to a younger brother, whose mother loves the son better than the daughter, an alcoholic father, growing up poor, wanting to be a writer, loving to read, and wanting a better life.The minutiae of life in Brooklyn in the early 1900s was so detailed and well-written that it was easy to slip into that time period. To forget that electricity, cars, and phones even existed. Seeing that world through Francie's eyes and occasionally through other characters was absorbing. Reading the brief biography of the author, it is easy to see that a lot of the book was autobiographical. I think that's why the book was so believable. I never felt like the book dragged on at all, even though it spans five years in 493 pages.more
Francie Nolan is a character not easily forgotten. Raised in Brooklyn at the turn of the century, Francie grows up the oldest of a family struggling to make ends meet. Her ability to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, her resourceful nature, and her tenacity to rise above her adversities makes her an inspiring literary figure. The character of Francie Nolan represents the American Dream--to work hard and earn success. Smith's writing thrusts us into Francie's world with detailed descriptions that are both effective and sometimes tedious. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, however, is a great historical read with themes that cross time and space. Throughout the novel, Smith explores: poverty, family, morality, and work ethic. It is obvious to see why this remains one of the classics for adolescent readers. While at times I found the novel gut-wrenching, Francie's perseverance and positive attitude make this an inspirational work!more
I was so glad when one of my book groups selected this book, which I first read more than 40 years ago when I was in college. It was an even better read the second time around, because at age 64, one has a much different reaction and perspective on so many parts of this story. It was also interesting to read this just after reading Sonia Sotomayor's My Beloved World. There are so many parallels between the two stories -- Sotomayor's could well have been titled A Tree Grows in the Bronx. Read and cherish both of these books!more
I really got into this book. I related very much to Francie--though I didn't grow up destitute, I was also a lonely girl who lived too much inside my own head. Brooklyn was very much on my mind when I read this book because I'd just finished a trip there and so I think that made the reading better. By the end of it, I felt as if the characters were old friends.more
It seems like this is quite a popular children's book in the US, but I'd never heard of it until it became a group read in one of the groups here on Librarything.I am happy I discovered this book, it's a lovely story! The book tells about a young girl in poor New York, who discovers a love of reading and learning and is determined to get an education. A lovely story, with very vivid descriptions of life in Brooklyn, and a very loveable protagonist.more
“Everything struggles to live. Look at that tree growing up there out of that grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It's growing out of sour earth. And it's strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong. My children will be strong that way.” ( Ch 8)In WWI era Brooklyn, precocious teen Francie Nolan lives in the slums with her father, Johnny, a dreamy no-account alcoholic; mother, Katie, a pragmatist; handsome younger brother, Neeley; and baby sister, Laurie. Katie’s mother, Mary Rommely, grieved to see her daughter marry Johnny Nolan; the matriarch knows that while the Rommelys “ran to women of strong personalities,” the Nolans “ran to weak and talented men.” (Ch 8) Indeed, the Nolans are well acquainted with poverty, even hunger. But Francie recalls only a loving, closely knit family; and she treasures her relationship with each. Heartbreakingly, she recalls her teenage years in Brooklyn’s tenements. And always, she recalls there was hope.A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is superbly written, replete with a cast of memorable characters. Narrator Kate Burton, with her fabulous flair for accents, is exemplary! Highly recommended.more
As a book group, we are no strangers to American classics. We’ve delved into more than a few over the 10 years we have been meeting, and on no occasion have they been described as ‘saccharine’. But there is a first time for everything, and this is exactly what approximately half of our group thought of Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Francie was too good to be true and many of the outcomes in the story lacked in the reality stakes. Others believed the story was devoid of intensity and some of the more interesting issues were glossed over.There were of course references made to McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes (which everyone had read), but as A Tree was written in the early 1940s, it was accepted that Smith had obviously written a book of her time, which we generally agreed was to some extent biographical.On the positive side, others believed it to be a wonderful read and historically correct. There was a strong sense of place and Francie’s character was exactly what the book’s protagonist needed it to be. We then proceeded to have a great discussion on the book’s many characters and it was mentioned that there was a clear depiction of pride written into them. Something that everyone felt and agreed was common among Smith’s social class of the time.It was about here that we began some reminiscing, as several of us could recall similar childhood memories of a time when space and money was short. Growing up stories are always entertaining and a wonderful way of rounding off a great discussion. For, regardless of a book’s original intent, if it inspires thoughtful and enjoyable discourse, it is always a winner with us!Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our readers. We look forward to another great year of reading and sharing with you!more
I just loved Francie Nolan and her perceptive comments about the people around her.more
Being close to the last reader on the planet to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I finally decided it's more than about time to discover why this novel seems to be such a beloved book.Taken at face value alone this is the story of young Francie Nolan, the oldest child of scrubwoman Katie and sometime employed singing waiter, Johnny. In the early years of the twentieth century, along with brother Neely, they share in the struggle to make ends meet, put a meal on the table and clothes on their backs. Despite these difficulties, the hardest to accept and the least understood impediment is Johnny's struggle with alcohol abuse which hampers their ability to financially advance. Their days are enriched and made lighter with assorted aunts, uncles, grandma and assorted local characters which provide color and amusement.Author Betty Smith, who turned her memoir into this beguiling novel , artistically breathes life into an era that is long gone and the slums of Brooklyn, New York which may not be familiar to many a reader.But that's not the end of the story, if you look beyond the Nolan's daily struggles, beyond the passé storyline and relentless hardships, you will find, what I believe to be, the stuff which makes this story timeless, beloved and relevant through the decades. It is the undying love of family and country. It is the ability to persevere in the face of poverty, injustice, addiction and loneliness. It's never giving up, never succumbing to a tough life, never accepting that life will never improve. It is the hope that despite all of the nasty things that life throws your way, there is always a chance that things will change for the better.more
By the end of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith’s mostly autobiographical coming of age novel, sixteen year old Francie Nolan has packed more living into her young life than most 80 year old Americans. Smith’s turn of the century tale tells precocious Francie’s story as well as that of her mother, the grimly realistic Katie, alcoholic and dreamy-eyed father Johnny and brother Neeley as they endure their hardscrabble lives and manage to make it seem to those of us on the other side of the page, as though their love and respect for each other overcomes the dire poverty that surrounds them. Katie’s philosophy of life sums up very neatly all that she wants for her children:”Everything struggles to live. Look at that tree growing up there out of the grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It’s growing out of sour earth. And it’s strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong. My children will be strong that way.” (Page 95)And she toughens them up in every possible way; as if life wasn’t tough enough already. Katie’s imagination keeps her from succumbing from the depression that engulfs their lives as she scrubs the floors of one of several tenement buildings that she cleans daily: ”Katie had this same flair for coloring an incident and Johnny himself lived in a half-dream world, yet they tried to squelch these things in their child. Maybe they had a good reason. Maybe they knew their own gift of imagination colored too rosily the poverty and brutality of their lives and made them able to endure it. Perhaps Katie thought that if they did not have this faculty, they would be clearer-minded; see things as they really were, and seeing them loathe them and somehow find a way to make them better.” (Page 199)The book could only have been written by someone who had lived through the experience. The descriptions of life at this time, just before WWI, are too vivid to have not have been experienced by the author. She manages to convey an appreciation for the small things of life that are normally taken for granted. And she’s created in bright, gifted Francie, an unbelievably appealing child who endures all life throws at her and manages to come out on top. Highly recommended.more
One of my favorite books of all time. It's a story about life--and I never wanted it to end.more
Oh my what a trip into the past this was. I read this book several times as a child. In fact, I was about Francie's age when I first read it. My only memory was of a girl in a window and a tree. For some reason that image stayed with me more than the story. I can't say that the story came back to me as I read, it did not. This was good, in that it was like reading and discovering it all over again. No wonder I read it time after time. In so many ways my own life mirrored Francie's.Even to the picking up of trash ( bottles) along the roads ( alleys) and turning them in for money for treats. We too, were less than wealthy, but such is life. Better times came for us. As for Francie? Life is what you make it, don't you think? And Francie was a strong young girl, who grew into a strong and intelligent young woman. She came form a family of strong women, who knew how to keep family together and how to do whatever needed to be done. The poor can't afford much, and being squeamish is one of those things. I'd like to lift a glass to the Francie the woman, and the women around her who taught her how to be the best she could be. We can overcome a lot if we put our minds to it. This story was dated in some ways, but oh so current in others. After all these years there are still children who don't know where their next meal will come from, men who just don't have it in them to stand strong and do what is needed and women who make up the difference and stand with their shoulders against the door to keep out the wolf called hunger and keep in the warm called love. highly recommended.more
Wow! I really enjoyed this look into the lives within a poor community during the early 1900's. The author has captured the people and the time incredibly well...I got engrossed in the plot to the point that I was neglecting household chores.Francie and her younger brother Neely live in the tenenents of Brooklyn. We follow them at home, on the streets and at school. While the book is about her extended family, the main character and protagonist is Francie. She dreams of becoming a writer someday. The characters are convincingly real, believable, and I found that I really cared about this young girl and her family.Now on my wish list for a future reread!more
I' m rally pleased that I bought this book on a whim. I found the narrator of the story, Francie, a very engaging and relatable character. Her description of her world was vivid yet did not get bogged down in details. Despite being written in the 40's and taking palce at the turn of the 20th century, I found many of the ideas and thinking of the charcters to be modern and still speak to the reader a hundred years later. I only wish I had read this when I was younger as I think my teenage self would have found campionship and comfort in a character like Francie. AS it is, I plan on holding onto the book until my nieces are old enough to read it.more
I have wanted to read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" for some time and I finally did so. This is a heartwarming story about a little 11 year old girl called Francie and her truly wonderful family. The book covers about 4 years (from age 11- 16) with quite a few flashbacks to Francie's earlier life. It is set in Brooklyn in the early 1900's (about 1915-1918) and the story is about living in Brooklyn at this time of the 20 century. Francie lives with her mother and father and her one year younger brother in a poor tenement in the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn. The family is poor but they do manage to eke out a living for themselves with lots of hard work and sacrifice. Francie is an imaginative 11 year old who finds beauty in the simplest things. She loves her family while at the same time being quite aware of their failings. But these failings only make her and her family stronger and the bond between them tighter. Francie loves to read and to learn and she gains a maturity far beyond her years because of her insatiable quest for knowledge, her effective observation skills, and because of the hard life she lives. When I looked at Ms. Smith's bio it appears that she herself lived in Brooklyn as a young girl at the time of the setting of this book. I am sure that she has put a lot of herself into the story, and her love of Brooklyn comes through on every page. And she obviously loved her characters as her writing makes them appear to live and breathe on the pages. It is easy to see why this book is considered an American classic. The writing and the characterizations are very well done indeed. It is a wonderful story about a precocious little girl as she grows up in a big American city at the beginning of the 20 century. I will miss Francie and her brother Nealey very much now that I've finished the book.more
I remembered loving this book as a teenager and started to retread with trepidation Some books just don't stand the test of time. I was not disappointed!!! This is a wonderful book even after all these years. Francie is a young girl living in poverty in Brooklyn in the early 1900s. She has an overworked mother and a drunken Irish father. Money and therefore life's necessities are in short supply. But in spite of the hardships Francie has imagination, love and hope. Spanning 1902-1918 we see her grow from child to almos woman, learning about life much to quickly I wish I could thank the author for shaing the joys, tears & hope with me!more
A book with excellent character portrayal and scene portrayal. Many of its characters will stay with me and the descriptions of life amongst the poor immigrants of Brooklyn will define my image of that time and place.more
I loved this book. It is an American classic. Set in the early 1900's we follow the life and musings of a young girl, Francie Nolan, who was born into poverty in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The descriptions of daily life in the Brooklyn neighborhood are so wonderfully detailed that you get a lovely history lesson together with an incredibly good read. The book was written in 1943 and was one of the most read books by American soldiers serving in WWII.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
I have just been reading up a storm this weekend, all over the map emotionally, and had to crack open one of my all time favorite novels. Seriously, I think I've read this book at least once, if not twice, every year since I was in the fourth grade. Love love love, always.more
I'm so sad that this book had to end. It is a beautifully written, heart-warming story. I look forward to re-reading it some day.more
[January 2013]
It's been almost 5 years since the last time I read this, and that's maybe 4 years too many. In the beginning the matter-of-fact writing style was bugging me, but then I fell back into Francie's life and everything else ceased to matter.


[March 2008]
I can't be objective about this book. If I were, I'd probably rate it lower and actually have a real review to post, but I can't do it. This is the ultimate in comfort reading for me, and has been since I first encountered it in the seventh grade. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my hearty potato soup on a cold winter afternoon--a little starchy and almost too thick, but creamy and delicious all the same.more
3.5, actually. One of the best novels to read if you're looking for in-depth characterization. A true American bildungsroman. On the other hand, not the best novel to read if you're looking for something plot-driven.more
I lost track of how many times this book made me cry. It hit so close to home because there were a lot of similarities between myself and Francie Nolan, the main character. An older sister to a younger brother, whose mother loves the son better than the daughter, an alcoholic father, growing up poor, wanting to be a writer, loving to read, and wanting a better life.The minutiae of life in Brooklyn in the early 1900s was so detailed and well-written that it was easy to slip into that time period. To forget that electricity, cars, and phones even existed. Seeing that world through Francie's eyes and occasionally through other characters was absorbing. Reading the brief biography of the author, it is easy to see that a lot of the book was autobiographical. I think that's why the book was so believable. I never felt like the book dragged on at all, even though it spans five years in 493 pages.more
Francie Nolan is a character not easily forgotten. Raised in Brooklyn at the turn of the century, Francie grows up the oldest of a family struggling to make ends meet. Her ability to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, her resourceful nature, and her tenacity to rise above her adversities makes her an inspiring literary figure. The character of Francie Nolan represents the American Dream--to work hard and earn success. Smith's writing thrusts us into Francie's world with detailed descriptions that are both effective and sometimes tedious. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, however, is a great historical read with themes that cross time and space. Throughout the novel, Smith explores: poverty, family, morality, and work ethic. It is obvious to see why this remains one of the classics for adolescent readers. While at times I found the novel gut-wrenching, Francie's perseverance and positive attitude make this an inspirational work!more
I was so glad when one of my book groups selected this book, which I first read more than 40 years ago when I was in college. It was an even better read the second time around, because at age 64, one has a much different reaction and perspective on so many parts of this story. It was also interesting to read this just after reading Sonia Sotomayor's My Beloved World. There are so many parallels between the two stories -- Sotomayor's could well have been titled A Tree Grows in the Bronx. Read and cherish both of these books!more
I really got into this book. I related very much to Francie--though I didn't grow up destitute, I was also a lonely girl who lived too much inside my own head. Brooklyn was very much on my mind when I read this book because I'd just finished a trip there and so I think that made the reading better. By the end of it, I felt as if the characters were old friends.more
It seems like this is quite a popular children's book in the US, but I'd never heard of it until it became a group read in one of the groups here on Librarything.I am happy I discovered this book, it's a lovely story! The book tells about a young girl in poor New York, who discovers a love of reading and learning and is determined to get an education. A lovely story, with very vivid descriptions of life in Brooklyn, and a very loveable protagonist.more
“Everything struggles to live. Look at that tree growing up there out of that grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It's growing out of sour earth. And it's strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong. My children will be strong that way.” ( Ch 8)In WWI era Brooklyn, precocious teen Francie Nolan lives in the slums with her father, Johnny, a dreamy no-account alcoholic; mother, Katie, a pragmatist; handsome younger brother, Neeley; and baby sister, Laurie. Katie’s mother, Mary Rommely, grieved to see her daughter marry Johnny Nolan; the matriarch knows that while the Rommelys “ran to women of strong personalities,” the Nolans “ran to weak and talented men.” (Ch 8) Indeed, the Nolans are well acquainted with poverty, even hunger. But Francie recalls only a loving, closely knit family; and she treasures her relationship with each. Heartbreakingly, she recalls her teenage years in Brooklyn’s tenements. And always, she recalls there was hope.A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is superbly written, replete with a cast of memorable characters. Narrator Kate Burton, with her fabulous flair for accents, is exemplary! Highly recommended.more
As a book group, we are no strangers to American classics. We’ve delved into more than a few over the 10 years we have been meeting, and on no occasion have they been described as ‘saccharine’. But there is a first time for everything, and this is exactly what approximately half of our group thought of Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Francie was too good to be true and many of the outcomes in the story lacked in the reality stakes. Others believed the story was devoid of intensity and some of the more interesting issues were glossed over.There were of course references made to McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes (which everyone had read), but as A Tree was written in the early 1940s, it was accepted that Smith had obviously written a book of her time, which we generally agreed was to some extent biographical.On the positive side, others believed it to be a wonderful read and historically correct. There was a strong sense of place and Francie’s character was exactly what the book’s protagonist needed it to be. We then proceeded to have a great discussion on the book’s many characters and it was mentioned that there was a clear depiction of pride written into them. Something that everyone felt and agreed was common among Smith’s social class of the time.It was about here that we began some reminiscing, as several of us could recall similar childhood memories of a time when space and money was short. Growing up stories are always entertaining and a wonderful way of rounding off a great discussion. For, regardless of a book’s original intent, if it inspires thoughtful and enjoyable discourse, it is always a winner with us!Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our readers. We look forward to another great year of reading and sharing with you!more
I just loved Francie Nolan and her perceptive comments about the people around her.more
Being close to the last reader on the planet to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I finally decided it's more than about time to discover why this novel seems to be such a beloved book.Taken at face value alone this is the story of young Francie Nolan, the oldest child of scrubwoman Katie and sometime employed singing waiter, Johnny. In the early years of the twentieth century, along with brother Neely, they share in the struggle to make ends meet, put a meal on the table and clothes on their backs. Despite these difficulties, the hardest to accept and the least understood impediment is Johnny's struggle with alcohol abuse which hampers their ability to financially advance. Their days are enriched and made lighter with assorted aunts, uncles, grandma and assorted local characters which provide color and amusement.Author Betty Smith, who turned her memoir into this beguiling novel , artistically breathes life into an era that is long gone and the slums of Brooklyn, New York which may not be familiar to many a reader.But that's not the end of the story, if you look beyond the Nolan's daily struggles, beyond the passé storyline and relentless hardships, you will find, what I believe to be, the stuff which makes this story timeless, beloved and relevant through the decades. It is the undying love of family and country. It is the ability to persevere in the face of poverty, injustice, addiction and loneliness. It's never giving up, never succumbing to a tough life, never accepting that life will never improve. It is the hope that despite all of the nasty things that life throws your way, there is always a chance that things will change for the better.more
By the end of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith’s mostly autobiographical coming of age novel, sixteen year old Francie Nolan has packed more living into her young life than most 80 year old Americans. Smith’s turn of the century tale tells precocious Francie’s story as well as that of her mother, the grimly realistic Katie, alcoholic and dreamy-eyed father Johnny and brother Neeley as they endure their hardscrabble lives and manage to make it seem to those of us on the other side of the page, as though their love and respect for each other overcomes the dire poverty that surrounds them. Katie’s philosophy of life sums up very neatly all that she wants for her children:”Everything struggles to live. Look at that tree growing up there out of the grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It’s growing out of sour earth. And it’s strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong. My children will be strong that way.” (Page 95)And she toughens them up in every possible way; as if life wasn’t tough enough already. Katie’s imagination keeps her from succumbing from the depression that engulfs their lives as she scrubs the floors of one of several tenement buildings that she cleans daily: ”Katie had this same flair for coloring an incident and Johnny himself lived in a half-dream world, yet they tried to squelch these things in their child. Maybe they had a good reason. Maybe they knew their own gift of imagination colored too rosily the poverty and brutality of their lives and made them able to endure it. Perhaps Katie thought that if they did not have this faculty, they would be clearer-minded; see things as they really were, and seeing them loathe them and somehow find a way to make them better.” (Page 199)The book could only have been written by someone who had lived through the experience. The descriptions of life at this time, just before WWI, are too vivid to have not have been experienced by the author. She manages to convey an appreciation for the small things of life that are normally taken for granted. And she’s created in bright, gifted Francie, an unbelievably appealing child who endures all life throws at her and manages to come out on top. Highly recommended.more
One of my favorite books of all time. It's a story about life--and I never wanted it to end.more
Oh my what a trip into the past this was. I read this book several times as a child. In fact, I was about Francie's age when I first read it. My only memory was of a girl in a window and a tree. For some reason that image stayed with me more than the story. I can't say that the story came back to me as I read, it did not. This was good, in that it was like reading and discovering it all over again. No wonder I read it time after time. In so many ways my own life mirrored Francie's.Even to the picking up of trash ( bottles) along the roads ( alleys) and turning them in for money for treats. We too, were less than wealthy, but such is life. Better times came for us. As for Francie? Life is what you make it, don't you think? And Francie was a strong young girl, who grew into a strong and intelligent young woman. She came form a family of strong women, who knew how to keep family together and how to do whatever needed to be done. The poor can't afford much, and being squeamish is one of those things. I'd like to lift a glass to the Francie the woman, and the women around her who taught her how to be the best she could be. We can overcome a lot if we put our minds to it. This story was dated in some ways, but oh so current in others. After all these years there are still children who don't know where their next meal will come from, men who just don't have it in them to stand strong and do what is needed and women who make up the difference and stand with their shoulders against the door to keep out the wolf called hunger and keep in the warm called love. highly recommended.more
Wow! I really enjoyed this look into the lives within a poor community during the early 1900's. The author has captured the people and the time incredibly well...I got engrossed in the plot to the point that I was neglecting household chores.Francie and her younger brother Neely live in the tenenents of Brooklyn. We follow them at home, on the streets and at school. While the book is about her extended family, the main character and protagonist is Francie. She dreams of becoming a writer someday. The characters are convincingly real, believable, and I found that I really cared about this young girl and her family.Now on my wish list for a future reread!more
I' m rally pleased that I bought this book on a whim. I found the narrator of the story, Francie, a very engaging and relatable character. Her description of her world was vivid yet did not get bogged down in details. Despite being written in the 40's and taking palce at the turn of the 20th century, I found many of the ideas and thinking of the charcters to be modern and still speak to the reader a hundred years later. I only wish I had read this when I was younger as I think my teenage self would have found campionship and comfort in a character like Francie. AS it is, I plan on holding onto the book until my nieces are old enough to read it.more
I have wanted to read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" for some time and I finally did so. This is a heartwarming story about a little 11 year old girl called Francie and her truly wonderful family. The book covers about 4 years (from age 11- 16) with quite a few flashbacks to Francie's earlier life. It is set in Brooklyn in the early 1900's (about 1915-1918) and the story is about living in Brooklyn at this time of the 20 century. Francie lives with her mother and father and her one year younger brother in a poor tenement in the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn. The family is poor but they do manage to eke out a living for themselves with lots of hard work and sacrifice. Francie is an imaginative 11 year old who finds beauty in the simplest things. She loves her family while at the same time being quite aware of their failings. But these failings only make her and her family stronger and the bond between them tighter. Francie loves to read and to learn and she gains a maturity far beyond her years because of her insatiable quest for knowledge, her effective observation skills, and because of the hard life she lives. When I looked at Ms. Smith's bio it appears that she herself lived in Brooklyn as a young girl at the time of the setting of this book. I am sure that she has put a lot of herself into the story, and her love of Brooklyn comes through on every page. And she obviously loved her characters as her writing makes them appear to live and breathe on the pages. It is easy to see why this book is considered an American classic. The writing and the characterizations are very well done indeed. It is a wonderful story about a precocious little girl as she grows up in a big American city at the beginning of the 20 century. I will miss Francie and her brother Nealey very much now that I've finished the book.more
I remembered loving this book as a teenager and started to retread with trepidation Some books just don't stand the test of time. I was not disappointed!!! This is a wonderful book even after all these years. Francie is a young girl living in poverty in Brooklyn in the early 1900s. She has an overworked mother and a drunken Irish father. Money and therefore life's necessities are in short supply. But in spite of the hardships Francie has imagination, love and hope. Spanning 1902-1918 we see her grow from child to almos woman, learning about life much to quickly I wish I could thank the author for shaing the joys, tears & hope with me!more
A book with excellent character portrayal and scene portrayal. Many of its characters will stay with me and the descriptions of life amongst the poor immigrants of Brooklyn will define my image of that time and place.more
I loved this book. It is an American classic. Set in the early 1900's we follow the life and musings of a young girl, Francie Nolan, who was born into poverty in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The descriptions of daily life in the Brooklyn neighborhood are so wonderfully detailed that you get a lovely history lesson together with an incredibly good read. The book was written in 1943 and was one of the most read books by American soldiers serving in WWII.more
Load more
scribd