A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
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"Don't say that. It's not better to die. W ...more
If I were to make a metaphor, this book would be the equivalent of the ice bucket challenge. It offers no platitudes, it is harsh, realistic. It slaps you in the face with reality, a reality that is very rarely pleasant.
And it is also one of the best young adult books I have ever read.
I first read this book as a young teen, perhaps when I was 13 or 14. The main lesson I learned from i ...more
I sob, and I mean sob, every time I read this book. It's such a simple story--Francie Nolan is a smart little girl who's trying to find beauty in her sometimes ugly, always poverty-stricken life. Her adored father is wonderful, but too plagued by his own demons to support his family. Her mother loves her children fiercely but is often harsh because she thinks it's her job to keep them grounded in reality (oh, and she seems to love Francie's brother more). Her aunt is ...more
Couldn't get through this one. Actually, that's not entirely true. I could have. And I don't mean that in the way of a mountain climber who just couldn't make it to the top and then warps reality by looking back at it. No, it's more like "couldn't" as in "I couldn't eat another hashbrown from my McDonald's breakfast." Sure, I COULD have. It just didn't seem worth the pain.
I get why this book is a classic, I think. My brother and I argue ...more
While it was not for those reasons that I first picked up "Brooklyn," I came to regard it as one of the finest books that I had ever read. At first glance, it is a very deceitful book: short; words spaced nicely apart; and, a largis ...more
The title of this novel refers to a tree that grows persistently up through the concrete and harsh conditions of a poor tenement neighborhood in early 1900s Brooklyn. But it is also a metaphor for the novel's protagonist, Franc ...more
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a quiet, gentle, understated and yet at the same time unexpectedly scathing at times book that offers a window (or a view from a fire escape, if you please) into a little corner of the world a century ago, and yet still has the power to resonate with readers of today.
After all, the world has moved forward, yes, but the essential human soul remains the same, and the obstacles in human lives - poverty, inequality, cruelty, and blind self-righteousness - are in no dange ...more
It starte ...more
While the story is set at the turn of the century (1902-1919) and contains many historical elements that may feel alien to the modern reader, the message that is subtly and intricately woven into the fabric of the story is one that I feel not only transcends the ages, but also one with which many of us can identify.
The protagonist, Francie, and her family represent the sort of wonderfully complex characters who come alive in the r ...more
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is the story of Francie (Frances) Nolan growing up in the slums of Brooklyn in 1912. Over the years, it has been called a timeless classic, a description which will undoubtedly remain steadfast.
“Francie’s mother is small and pretty but steely and tough but her father is warm and charming and, above all, a prisoner of his need for drink.”* Kate, the mother, is the breadwinner of the family, clean houses for the money, which feeds, clothes and keep the family warm (when t ...more
In Betty Smith's classic, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, she re-creates the challenging world of extreme poverty, starvation and hardship that she grew up in as a girl and teen in the Williamsburg slums from 1902-1919.
As an avid reader, it is hard not to fall in love with Francie, her love of books and the explosive excitement she feels from learning and attaining her goals. The more I became acquainted with the Nolan family, I just did not want the story to en...more
When I was just 10 pages i ...more
It’s probably for the best, though, for while this book centers around the young girl Francie Nolan, this coming-of-age story is appro ...more
1. Very relatable. Frances Nolan was born into a family that didn't have much, but managed to make it work every day. A great story of perseverance and determination.
2. Thoughtful and honest. I appreciated the realities Betty Smith brought forth, and the profound words that give strength to those who struggle.
3. Slow read. It's a book that I wanted to take my time with and absorb each experience Frances and her family was going through.
I wasn't expecting to love this as much as I did, despite all the darker themes it contained, it still somehow managed to be a lovely, warm and charming read.
-I enjoyed how the story was less plot driven and more focused on the characters. I loved reading about Francie Nolan and her family, and all the struggles and ups and downs they faced and how it made them change and grow over the years. I didn't expect to be so engrossed by all the grim and ordinary details of their day to day to ...more
Thank you Jay Z for making me want to read this book. #RandomFact
I will review further soon.
Betty Smith's novel is in some ways autobiographical. If not, there are parallels in a cracked two-way mirror kinda way. I imagine the author would peer through the holes onto the other side and recognize Betty Smith.
There are parts of th ...more
We're discussing on the blog on Friday, August 29th--so happy that Kim suggested that we read this for our classics readalong series.
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is the heart-warming story of Francie Nolan and her day to day life in the slums of Brooklyn during the early 1900s.
Sometimes slow, with a lot of detail, it’s beautifully written and takes the reader into Francies life…her hopes, her dreams, her struggles and her triumphs.
It's a long story, 905 pages on my laptop, but I can honestly say I wasn't bored, not for one minute. With a cast of likable, believable, sometimes quirky characters, and a setting so perfectly describ ...more
After hearing from so many of my friends that this was an endearing, well-loved, favorite classic, I'm afraid it did not meet my expectations. I really enjoyed the first half, particularly when the author gives you the back story of the main character's grandparents and parents, but the second half felt like a chore to get through at times (making me want to 23 skidoo). There are beautiful quotes throughout and I enjoyed the author's way with words, but the plot needed more ...more
As Anna Quindlen quoted at the end of her forward: Francie does not say "good-bye" to the tenements for the tragedies but to the girl she once was, the illusions she had, the life she once led.
Originally pri ...more
This was such an honest and poignant story set in Brooklyn, NY, beginning in the summer of 1912. We meet our main character, Francie Nolan, as well as her mother (Katie), Johnny (Papa!) Neeley (brother) ...more
|2015 Reading Chal...: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith||15||60||Jul 25, 2015 10:55PM|
|The F-word: May FICTION selection A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN||14||35||Jun 05, 2015 03:51PM|
|Around the World ...: Discussion for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn||7||56||May 15, 2015 04:12PM|
|2015 Reading Chal...: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith||9||24||May 06, 2015 05:37PM|
|The Reading For P...: February Fiction Group Read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn||27||38||Mar 17, 2015 04:12PM|
Betty Smith (AKA Sophina Elisabeth Wehner): Born- December 15, 1896; Died- January 17, 1972
Born in Brooklyn, New York to German immigrants, she grew up poor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. These experiences served as the framework to her first novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (19 ...more