I loved it!!!! The language really takes you back and make you feel like you're living in Brooklyn 100 years ago...she takes you into the lives and struggles of the characters and does an excellent job of creating emotional connections. I would definitely recommend this!
This book is a great read.I loved the main character Francie and if you enjoy reading books about a person growing up you will love this one.Her life is so believable it makes you believe that if you want something and you persevere it will work out in the end. *****5 stars
Simply put, a classic. One of my favorites and one I can read again and again.
That's what I like best about it - I remember the first time I read it as a young girl, scavenging through my older sister's book collection. When I read it a second time in high school, I picked up on so many different things, and again as a young adult. I was just thinking about this book the other day, and now I wanted to read it again, and I'm guessing this time I'll read it through the eyes of a mother who has, at times, been overworked and overwhelmed with life and family! :) You find yourself so invested in these characters - Francie, her mother, her father, brother... and their story is timeless.
A common complaint for this book seems to be that not much happens in it. And, while to a certain extent this is true--this certainly isn't an edge of your seat thriller--it is also true that this is a tale in which everything happens.
What you'll find in the pages of this book is the tale of one little girl turning into a woman, and one small, mystical town turning into a city.
This is the story of Francie Nolan, and of her extended family, as they live in poverty at the beginning of the 20th century in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It is both a character study and a study of a Brooklyn that no longer exists. It is a story of life--children are born, people die, marriages begin and end. Thrillingly good things happen, and horrifyingly bad things happen. And through it all, the author's voice is filled with humor and awe at the beauty the world holds.
So yes, "not much happens," but I found the tale gripping and had a lot of difficulty putting it down. I made it through the near-500 pages in about 6 days. I highly recommend.
I would classify this as one of the great American novels in a league with "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Grapes of Wrath." It is the story of Francie Nolan and her family living in the poor section of Brooklyn shortly after the turn of the century. Francie struggles to cope with poverty and life. The novel beautifully portrays her family including her tragic father, practical mother, and her colorful aunts and grandparents. As I read this book, I found myself wishing that families today valued education as much as the characters in the story. For its time, the book is very frank in dealing with alcoholism, sex, and growing up. Some of the novel's unforgettable scenes include Katie's labor pains, the attempted rape of Francie, Francie's graduation flowers from her dead father, and Aunt Sissy, who works in a condom factory, faking pregnancy: she claimed the reason she wasn't 'showing' in front was that the baby she was carrying was in the back. There are themes of life lessons learned, family tragedies, and family joy. It is a Dickensian novel of New York and also includes elements of some of Zola's realistic novels such as "L'Assommoir" (another great novel). It's a great book, a classic, and I hope my kids will want read it when they are older.
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. Betty Smith's poignant, honest novel created a big stir when it was first published over 50 years ago. Her frank writing about life's squalor was alarming to some of the more genteel society, but the book's humor and pathos ensured its place in the realm of classics--and in the hearts of readers, young and old.
Very good book; a contemporary author raised in the same area as where the book takes place; the author has a wonderful sense of place. I highly recommend this book to everyone, including teenagers. My teenage daughter loved the book and when she grew up and married, I gave it to her. Tt is a permanent resident in her bookcase, and has been enjoyed by her teenage daughters. I definitely recommend it.
Betty Smith does a good job of pulling you into the story from the start, but some parts of the story were a little slow. She painted a good picture of what it was like to live in the early 1900's. There are some dated vocabulary/slang that I was not quite sure of, but it did not take away from the story. Overall I think it is a pretty good read.
Oh, be still my heart. Had I any idea how much I'd love Francie Nolan, I would have read this years ago. And then read it over and over again.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows the life of Francie Nolan, a girl growing up in Brooklyn at the turn of the century. Like the Dickens book David Copperfield, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn can't be reduced to its plot. It's about too many things without a direct something. It's about poverty, struggling, politics, immigrants, education...just life in general. But, it's also about family, identity, love, loss of innocence and growing up. And we see it all through the eyes of a poor, lonely, extremely observant little girl.
Francie lives in her tennament flat with her realist of a mother, her dreamer of a father, and her younger brother, Neely, the favored child. The Nolan family is a part of the poorest of the poor. Francie learns early what it is to go hungry, how far a penny can go, and that she must get an education. We grow to know Francie's family, which extends to her aunts, neighbors, shopkeepers, teachers and the local kids. The family ties that Smith captures are a part of the reason Francie wants so much to get an education, grow and change, but it's also what keeps her grounded. Like it or not, it's who she is. The book is sad, Francie and Neely's upbringing is bleak, but we do witness some bits of joy and laughter.
The writing isn't flowery. It's easily on level with upper-elementary reads. But there's something about it. Smith is able to draw you in and evoke emotions in her simple and clear prose. Even without an apparent plot, you continue to read on. You wait to see Francie triumph because you know she will. She works hard and she has to give up on some big dreams for some small gains, but she never quits. Like the tree growing out of the grate in Brooklyn, Francie keeps reaching up. And you can't help but love, admire, and see yourself in the story she tells.
The night was heady and frosty. There was no wind and the air was cold and still. The stars were brilliant and hung low in the sky. There were so many stars that their light made the sky a deep cobalt blue. There wasn't a moon but the starlight served better than moonlight.
Francie stood on tiptoe and stretched her arms wide. "Oh I want to hold it all!" she cried. "I want to hold the way the night is - cold without wind. And the way the stars are so near and shiny. I want to hold all of it tight until it hollers out, 'Let me go! Let me go!" p.403
"Dear God," she prayed, "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 trughtful; 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." p.421
Loved this book so much! Great story made you have an awarenesss of what the times were like back in the Depression era. I researched the author and have read every book she ever published. What a wonderful writer she was!
A wonderful story, should be required reading in school! I read this book on recommendation of my cousin, and boy do I owe her thanks! She said it made her think of how our ancestors probably grew up in the early 1900s in Detroit, and I couldn't agree more. Betty Smith does a WONDERFUL job at portraying the perfect amount of detail to make you feel like you are the one walking the streets and bargaining for a hat or piece of meat, or walking 12 blocks one way to school. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows Francie Nolan, beginning at age 11, in Brooklyn, New York. She loves her drunk father and is desperate to win the affection of her mother, who favors her brother Neely. She absorbs the world around her with an awe that most 40 year olds lack.
This book is a wonderful description of life in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn, but it can be applied to ANY city, and makes a strong statement on the hope offered to the immigrants who came to the United States. The story emphasizes quite clearly the value of reading and a good education, but most importantly the strength of family and the dreams that sustain people. As Francie learns, "there had to be the dark and muddy waters so that the sun could have something to background it flashing glory." All people, young and old, will relish Francie's story and hold its message in their hearts forever.
I read this book in 5th grade, and then again at age 45. I always knew that this book helped form who I became, but it wasn't until the second reading at age 45 that I realized how much it formed who I am, how I perceive things, and how many passages still reverberate through my life regularly.
The views, lessons, and depiction of realities & mentalities (in particular for anyone that has every experienced grinding poverty and how the world works from that perspective) are as true today as they were at the turn of the last century; in fact, frightenly still accurate.
I passed this book on to my best friend's (since we were 10) 11 year old daughter as required reading. I chose this version without the foreword from Anna Quinlan because I wanted her daughter to form her own perceptions from what she read, and not be predisposed to anyone else's take-aways from the book.
To me, this is one of the most important works I've ever read.
Listening to the audio version of this book took me back to my girlhood when I first read the book...the narrator does an exemplary job reading all the parts and the story is as wonderful as EVER. What a great book!
A poignant and deeply understanding story of childhood and family relationships. The Nolans lived in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn from 1902 to 1919....their daughter Francie and their son Neeley knew more than their fair share of the privations and sufferings that are the lot of a great city's poor. Primarily this is Francie's book. she is a superb feat of characterization, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child. And Francies' growing up and beginnings of wisdom are the substance of 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn'.
"It is a profoundly moving novel, and an honest and a true one. It cuts right to the heart of life" - New York Times.
This is the third time in my life I have read this book, first time was as a young girl like Francie. I LOVED it even more this time if that is possible. All the little stories about the people and their day to day lives, their values,their struggles,their pettiness, their failings, their kindness- its all there. It's interesting that nothing is "whitewashed " as so many books written in that time were. This book has not lost anything as time moves on - it a "must read" either for the first time or the 3rd or 4th!!
I read this book for the first time when my I was twelve and my mother gave me her grandmother's copy. It was the first book I truly fell in love with and I have loved it ever since. That being said, when my book club chose it as our next read, I was both excited and worried. Even though I read it several times between the ages of twelve and fifteen, I had not read it in alomost 20 years. What if it wasn't as good as I remembered? What if I didn't like it as much now as I did as a young teen? What if I didn't like it at all? Some books are better remembered in the past than revisited in the present (Flowers in the Attic comes immediately to mind), so even though I was thrilled to have an excuse to read it again, I was a little apprehensive. I didn't want my favorite book of all time to be ruined for me.
My worrying was for nothing because this is truly one of the greatest novels ever written.
Oh, how I love this book. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn makes me in love with life, in love with living. It's one of the few books I've ever read that when I got to the end, I was so incredibly sad it was over and I just wanted it to keep going, even though it was already 500 pages! I wanted to follow Francie and the Nolan family forever and I felt as if I was losing a dear friend.
The story takes place in Brooklyn, New York during the early 1900's, up until about 1920, and centers around the impoverished Nolan family, and specifically Francie Nolan, a shy, bookish misfit. Francie's mother works as a janitress, cleaning several tenement buildings in their poor neighborhood to support Francie and her brother Neely because Francie's father is a drunk. It's a heart-wrenching story with many ups and downs and I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say READ IT!
This book makes me want to be poor. Not because the book makes being poor seem great, because it makes plain the pain and suffering poverty causes, particularly at the beginning of the 20th century, but you really got a sense of how not having anything really made the Nolan's have each other, to help each other, to love each other, and to need each other in a way that they wouldn't have if they'd had enough. By the end of the book the Nolan's seem to be finally making their way out of the hard scrabble life and onto something easier and more comfortable than the poverty and grief they have endured, but you get a sense that they will never be as happy close as they were when they had only each other, when they really needed each other and could be there for one another in a way they won't need to be anymore. And to me one of the themes of this book is change. Change is obviously an inevitability and possibly even a necessity, but change is often sad. And even though change can be good, there is almost always a nostalgia for the way things were and even a mourning for what used to be, and so when I reach the end of this book, I feel a certain sadness even though I know the Nolans will be better off.
This book is one of the few that holds a special place in my heart. The story of Francie,and her beloved father Johnny is a timeless treasure. This is a classic that is still relevant in today's world, a young girl growing up poor in Brooklyn.
An in-depth story told in the voice of a young girl growing up in Brooklyn when Wilson was president. The story begins in 1902 which I think counts as the last century. It's a poignant look at a young girl growing up in Brooklyn, so poor but happy with her family, even with an alcoholic father who had so many good qualities not the least of which is that he understood Francie as her mother never could. The tale is told by Francie herself and the author does a remarkable job of keeping in step with the girl's development, her thought processes, and the changes that occur. It's hard to imagine working so young to help put food on the family table when her father dies. It's a Cindarella story which I am sure rarely occurred to poverty-stricken people like Francie and her family.
I ordered A Tree Grows in Brooklyn because it appears on a book club's summer list. I vaguely remembered reading it in high school. Reading it now is a revelation. What a wonderfully dense, vibrant picture of the lives of the immigrant groups on Long Island. If you haven't read Tree in twenty years, pick it up again.
I'd heard about this book for many years but didn't even know what it was about. After reading the reviews on PBS I wanted to read it. It's a wonderful story about a young girl growing up in Brooklyn in the early 20th century. Even though it was written more than 60 years ago, the writing style is contemporary and easy to read. I loved the detail of everyday life in Brooklyn in the early 1900s. Ms. Smith brought the characters and the story to life. This book is truly a classic. I highly recommend it.
If you love reading historical fiction, you'll love the story of Francie Nolan! Set in the slums of Brooklyn from 1902 until 1919, the book offers many little details about life in early 1900's America. I love this book!!
There were several "books" in this book, and I am not so sure it needed that, it was two books. The climax was at chapter 32 for me, then the heroine grew up-something I felt would never happen. Not only because half of the book was about her childhood and the people supporting that, but because I didn't really want her to, even if it is inevitable. I think everyone can connect with this book in one way or another. Some in more ways than others. I think its harder to read if you have more ways to identify it with. I have thought of writing a book like this, I am sure most people have... but at the end of the book I felt that there will never be a book like this, at least, not as well as this one was written. I would read this book twice. Though it was hard to read(for me)-emotional, I felt it had a decent mix of good and bad.
One of my favorite books! I re-read it every few years
This is the story of a poor Broooklyn family family at the turn of the 20th century.
The Nolans have nothing yet their mother Katie refuses to give up, her pride and determination keeps the family together while the father turns to drink.
Somehow in all the years of school and college, I had never read this book. It sat on my shelf at home for a good number of years until I finally picked it up and started to read. What a treat! This is an excellent book that is basically somewhat autobiographical in nature. The author suffered through the extreme poverty that the family in the book does. I think that's why the entire story seems so real and believable.
With a mostly absent father who drinks, hardly ever enough food to feed at first two, then three children and the mother, Katie, this family somehow makes it through some terrible years of want while living in barely liveable tenaments in Brooklyn,NY. The positive attitudes of the children, Francie, especially, and her desire to do just about anything to get an education despite having to leave school to support her family, is a lesson to us that giving up is never an option. Responsibilities must be always taken seriously, but if one works hard enough and wants something bad enough, it's possible to reach that goal.
I loved the lessons in family, grace, and helping self and others in the face of overwhelming poverty. It was well worth the time spent reading this book. It's a good picture of Brooklyn and life in the early years of the turn of the twentieth century.
Well, I really liked this book! I definitely can see how it has earned the right to be a considered a classic. And I am disappointed that this was never a required reading book in my high school or university classes.
And though the war was WWI, and the city was NYC, it just reminded me of my Nonnie & Paba. I really enjoyed it - and I especially loved the narrator's relationship with books. This was just a really great book all in all!
"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" was written over sixty years ago and time has not diminished the capacity of this book to capture the reader's heart. This coming of age story that takes place in turn of the century Brooklyn will simply enthrall the reader with its descriptive passages and its richly developed characters. This book survives the passage of time because the themes upon which it touches are universal ones. I read this book for the first time as required reading in high school. At the time I hated it. I reread it as an adult and could not believe how great it was. I think this should be required reading for every school child, especially the girls! Like me, they probably won't get it at first, but if they give it a chance, they will not be sorry.
I had been wanting to read this book for year and have finally gotten around to it this summer. I enjoyed the storyline and learning about Brooklyn in a different era, but I didn't think the writing was that great in general. There were lots of repetitive words and phrase- I just didn't like her style.
There is nothing like reading a Classic... A Tree Grows in Brooklyn will not disappoint the reader who loves one! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book; Smith writes eloquently of the early 1900's; she relates in her writing of the suffering & struggle of poverty of many people of Brooklyn, New York. The stories are mainly about Francie Nolan and her family, but are well-told. Smith has a way of storytelling and writing; adding a little humor, too, from Francie. A great read!
As is stated in this books forward, this story isn't about one thing. There isn't one topic, one climax, one point. It meanders quietly, yet poignantly through the growing up years of a young girl living in the poverty stricken tenements of 1912 Brooklyn, NY. To describe the plot is impossible if one wants to do it justice. There's just too much that would have to be left out and that that would be a shame. Suffice it to say it keeps one's attention to the elimination of everything else.
Upon research, I found it is actually an autobiography of the author (which makes it even more moving and unforgettable) who, upon request turned it into a story. I also learned while it became a huge best-seller when originally published in 1942, it was also hugely controversial. People didn't want to see poverty and injustice, reality in their stories. Looking in that mirror could be just too uncomfortable. Honesty is fine - up to a point - but truth is sometimes awfully hard to stomach. Taking from the book:
" Honesty is casting bright light on your own experience; truth is casting it on the experiences of all"
And, that's what Ms. Smith did so well. In her story we see bits of ourselves, for good or bad. We relate to the too-skinny girl who doesn't fit in. We remember the cruel children, the harsh teachers, the humiliating situations that coat the human experience. We also remember the joys that make childhood magical, the dreams that make growing up an adventure, no matter one's social class. Francie's life is filled with life - humanities. It's a story of living among the desperately poor through the eyes of one who knows nothing else. But, lest one think it is depressing and dark, it's also a story of love, of family, of the infallible will to do better in a country where better is always promised but sometimes disappoints. It's innocence shines through even while its hideousness is obvious. It is a quiet, heart-wrenching, soul-felt, yet ultimately hopeful story. It accepts weakness but inspires greatness. It admits ugliness while searching for beauty. It acknowledges great despair while encouraging great hope. All with a clear, simple voice of an 11 year old girl
I absolutely loved this book. It showed how a girl and her family that lived in destitute stayed together and made it through. I love how you felt like you were right with her. Everybody can learn something from this book and should definitely read it.
I really loved this book. I was actually surprised that it was so good. One of the things I think that makes a book great is it's ability to change the way you think about things, about life. This book did that for me in the way I think about money and education. I also just really loved the way the story flowed. In short, an excellent choice. It's now one of my favorite books of all time and that is no small feat. This book would be a great read for anyone.
Anyone who missed reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or who wants to know this moving story again should run, not walk, to the nearest source of this outstanding audiobook. The novel richly merits its status as a "classic." Francie, the protagonist, grows up in the slums of Brooklyn during the early part of the twentieth century, and life treats her badly. Less favored in her dysfunctional family than her brother, forced to leave school early, maltreated by fate and by people--she plunges forward, indomitable, courageous. What makes the listening experience so fine is the compelling and convincing narration by Bernadette Dunne, who not only has Francie down pat, but also captures the assorted other characters. She feels Francie's pain at the setbacks, her joy at the triumphs. And, as Francie matures, so does Dunne's presentation. Clearly Dunne was committed to creating something fine and, like Francie herself, she has.
Oh my God, what a wonderful book. I have read and reread this book from my first time to now. My sister and I both sooo identified with the main character, Francine. I love how it ends: no "happy" ending, just Frannie saying "good-bye" to her old life sooo well!!!
An excellent book. Well written with a good story line. I love historical novels so this was a good choice for me, definitely put me right at the turn of the century. I pictured my grandparents and how they grew up. I am not as wowed by some (like Oprah claiming this book changed her life?) but it was a very good read! Very Women's Lib for the day and probably a bit shocking back then. I gave the book to my daughter to read so sorry won't be posting just yet. But it is worth the wait!
Wonderful, educational! Everyone must read it. Truly among the classics. Will share this copy with others but will purchase a new pristine copy for our home library to re read and have my children read.
A coming of age story of an Irish girl living through adversity in Brooklyn in 1902, this is a wonderful story with great descriptions and character development. The joy of the book is in the details of our leading lady's life, rather than big dramatic action. I really liked the book.
very good, interesting, easy read. I'm very glad I read it. But comparisons to Angela's Ashes are pushing it. Angela's Ashes is more sophisticated reading, and Francie Nolan is rich compared to the kids in Angela's Ashes.
This is one of those books that only get read in high school literature classes. It is the second worst book I have ever read. Catcher in the Rye has first place "honors". Don't bother reading it, it is a waste of time.