Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” as Want to Read:
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  267,163 ratings  ·  13,742 reviews
The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of ...more
Hardcover, 443 pages
Published 1943 by Harper & Brothers (first published 1940)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Jim It might not be an easy book for some but based on your books I think you will do fine. It is engrossing and well written. It is well worth it just to…moreIt might not be an easy book for some but based on your books I think you will do fine. It is engrossing and well written. It is well worth it just to understand what life was like then.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Maggie Campbell
"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."

"Don't say that. It's not better to die. W
Khanh (Clowns, Nightmares, and Bunnies)
Some books give young girls dreams of ponies, kittens, and visions of eternal love. This book is not one of them.

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
{Yup, I'm reading it AGAIN.}

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
Peter Derk
Well, the tree grows very slowly and with exhaustive detail.

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
Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" has been passed down through at least three or four generations and is highly regarded as a classic novel perfect for any young adult bent on entering adulthood and escaping from the gaping clutches of a complicated childhood.
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
Sarah Null
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!'"

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

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
Jun 16, 2009 Sparrow rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: High school students, U.S. history classes
Recommended to Sparrow by: Amanda Coleman
It is a tribute to Jeanette Walls that I could not get through this book without comparing it dozens of times to The Glass Castle, with The Glass Castle coming off as its genius granddaughter or fashionable little sister. I probably should have read this first, as a child or teenager, but it’s too late for that now. No regrets! I could not help wondering why Betty Smith wrote this story as fiction rather than memoir, and the fact of it being fiction made me notice a lack of complexity in Francie ...more
I felt like the last person in the world to have read this book, and based on what everyone has said about it over the years, I expected this to be the next best thing after the Crispy Potato Soft Taco at Taco Bell. But as I read the first 200 pages, I thought everyone was out of their freaking minds. This, I thought, is what everyone has been raving about for as long as I can remember? I even did a quick peek at my GR friends list - you people love this book. I couldn't figure out why.

It starte
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my absolute favorite book of all time.

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
B the BookAddict
Feb 12, 2015 B the BookAddict rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Most readers
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Anastasia

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

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

Shayantani Das
“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 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.”

When I was just 10 pages i
helen the bookowl
This was a beautiful story about Francie and her poor family struggling through life in Brooklyn in the 1900s. It is told from Francie's point-of-view, but through the pages you feel a deep connection to the rest of the family as well, which just makes the story even more touching.
I especially loved how some of the sentences and paragraphs in this book were poignant because they were very true and honest. I often had to stop and reread a passage just because it hit spot on and described life pe
I think my mom once said that this was her favorite book, and yet somehow I hadn’t read it until now. In my early teens, I remember coming across a paperback edition that had been lying around the house … and not making it past the first couple pages. The writing was way over my head (which had been addled by too much fluff reading of Baby-sitters Club, probably).

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
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is another classic that I've always heard about, but never read - until now! And it's another one that I wish I had read sooner! If someone told me that this was an autobiography, I would believe it. It was extremely believable and well-written. Betty Smith completely drew me into Francie Nolan's world. I feel like I was there and lived that life with her - which is amazing because my life and experiences are very different from Francie's world as a poor young girl growi ...more

Thank you Jay Z for making me want to read this book. #RandomFact

I did a Review for this book on my BookTube channel! Check it out here: Top Books of 2015(Pt. 1).
Another American classic finally read. I'm very glad to have finally experienced this book. It was really more than I expected, a wonderful story of a young girl growing up in early twentieth century Brooklyn with her parents and brother. The life was hard with family foremost but not perfect. The details were perfect, from the multiple uses for bread to stretch out meals to details from school experiences to conversations between mother and daughter revealing depths of honesty and past despair. ...more
Loved it! A fantastic coming of age story.

Initial Thoughts:
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
 photo a tree grows in brooklyn 1_zpsznhfoaml.jpg

 photo a tree grows in brooklyn_zpszonhzr2p.png

This book has so many beautiful lines which have a lot of depth. A true classic and a legitimate masterpiece.
Sep 15, 2010 Mariel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone with a heart
Recommended to Mariel by: young me found it by sheer luck
I read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn when I was about fourteen years of age. I've not reread it since, so this is more of a review of the value of the long lasting impression it made on me in my formative years (although I believe all of my years are formative ones).

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
Loved it from page 1

Slow paced and really descriptive but I loved it like that

I really enjoyed learning about life back then for the Nolans
Highs and lows of life and daily experience

I was so emotionally attached to Francie. She was a brillant character and I loved her to pieces

I struggled with this one. I found the book relentlessly depressing and the characters stereotypical. I also did not care for the author's style of writing. Obviously this was just not the book for me as I realise many people love it to bits! Once in a while I meet a book I just cannot like and I was rather disappointed that this was one.
Beth Sniffs Books
Sigh, this will always be my favorite book.

My childhood copy has been loved and re-read many many times -- I was afraid it wouldn't hold up to another re-read so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Open Library had an e-book version I could borrow. I think I was on the wait list for about two months -- and then just as I finished a book, the angels sang, and I got an e-mail notification that it was my turn -- oh I love it when things work out that way!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was just as
Wendy Darling
I can't believe I hadn't read this until now! So moving and shocking and lovely all at once.

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 by Betty Smith is an amazing story of a girl coming of age in the 1900's. She lives in the poor part of Brooklyn and tells the story of her life growing up, learning to deal with harsh realities and still finding the wonder in life and holding onto it. Smith is a brilliant writer. Her depiction of reality in such a precarious time is both insightful and a joy to read. You are drawn into Francie's story, the disappointments in life, the sadness, and the wonderful viewpoin ...more
Saya sempat bertanya-tanya mengapa harus ada kata pengantar dari Anne Quindlen (novelis, jurnalis dan kolumnis AS) untuk novel ini. Namun setelah membacanya, saya rasa novel yang awalnya dibuat sebagai memoar ini memang layak diberi catatan khusus. Pembaca yang mengharapkan plot atau konflik seru mungkin harus menelan kecewa, karena novel ini, seperti lazimnya sebuah memoar, 'hanya' bercerita tentang perjalanan hidup, bukan ledakan-ledakan peristiwa yang membuat pembaca ikut pontang-panting.

Ruth Turner

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
This is a heartfelt, moving novel which touched me deeply. It's one of those books that you love instantly and race through them, and slow down at the end because you don't want it to be over. The characters are wonderful and rich, and despite being a million miles away from Brooklyn and its history, I found it so easy to get entwined in. I know this is a book that I'll come back to and read over and over again. I only wish Betty Smith had written a sequel.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • How Green Was My Valley
  • My Name Is Asher Lev
  • Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos
  • My Ántonia
  • Betsy's Wedding (Betsy-Tacy, #10)
  • Emily Climbs (Emily, #2)
  • A Room with a View
  • The Group
  • So Big
  • A Yellow Raft in Blue Water
  • A Lantern in Her Hand
  • Mrs. Mike (Mrs. Mike, #1)
  • The Velvet Room
  • Passing
  • The Portable Dorothy Parker
  • The Collected Stories
  • The Color Purple
  • The Mansion
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

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 about Betty Smith...

Share This Book

“The world was hers for the reading.” 2801 likes
“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.” 2219 likes
More quotes…