Casey's Reviews > A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  Smith
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Jun 30, 08

bookshelves: children-or-young-adult, 2008

{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 a bit of a floozy, but is still kind and generous. Together, this family lives dirt-poor in Brooklyn. And that's it. But from this simple premise grows a tender, heartbreaking story. It's the only book that fills me with sadness just by thinking about it.

Also, this is another of those books that I fear will fade away. It's just not that flashy, and it is long. I'm always saddened at how much length plays a part in what my students choose to read. Please buy it!
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Comments (showing 1-18)




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message 18: by Marian (new)

Marian Seiders I read this years ago and I loved it too.


Casey I absolutely adore it. I notice something new every time.


message 16: by K. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K. Thanks for the reminder. I also read it years ago and loved it and had forgotten all about it. Like you, I hope it doesn't disappear for lack of flash.


Alicia Gilligan I, too, cried while reading this book. So many soul-touching descriptions of exactly how a young woman feels, or would feel, given her circumstances. Particularly having an alcoholic father, yet loving him so...spot on! Bravo, Francie Nolan!


Maggie It really is an underrated book. But don't worry, it happens to be my favorite book of all time, and I know several fellow college students who also adore it. My younger sister is dying to read it. Fear not, this precious gem of a book will be carried down to subsequent generations :)


Denise I'm 43 and just read it for the first time- but, it was because I remember my mom telling me when I was young that it had been her favorite book when she was little. I never forgot the name of it, and just happened to see it in a charity shop a few weeks ago. I can see why she loved it. I think we just need to keep passing it down.


message 12: by Pat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pat Hi Everyone- I am in a quandry...but I think that you could help. Since you all have read the book,I would like to pick your memories. My book Group is reading this book and I am hosting the review. I have this great book that is titled "Read It and Eat" suggestions for food and discussion questions. I plan to make "Bare Bones Beef Barley Soup" and some bread. Can anyone recall any desserts or sweets that the Nolan Family had?
I reviewed this book and enjoyed it. I would be very grateful if anyone could suggest something to top off our gathering. Thanks very much!


message 11: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Keister sugar buns, hot chocolate


message 10: by Pat (last edited Nov 18, 2012 04:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pat Nancy wrote: "sugar buns, hot chocolate"


That sounds like a great finish.I appreciate the idea.
Thanks! Pat
ps...I found a recipe for sugar buns on Martha Stewart just now. I can't wait to try them.


Whitney Wood I have re-read this book multiple times, and every time I get something different out of it. It was recommended to me by a favorite teacher who has since passed away, and I vividly remember her telling me that "books will be there for you when nobody else will". I feel as if a have a piece of her with me whenever I read this book.


KnowledgeGeek Its a beautifully poignant book. To me, a truly good book makes one cry & laugh. Even though this one evokes more tears than laughs, it's still a wonderful story. I love the movie too.


Casey This was on TV the other day and I was telling my husband about the graduation flowers and I started crying! I can't even talk about the damn book!


Rich Brothers I really enjoyed this book when I read it many years ago. It is an excellent window into life in the early 20th century. I love books that help me understand my ancestors' world.


Madgratess Fantastic review! I just read it for the first time and can't even find the words to describe how much I loved it. I want to immediately pick it up and read it again. I have written down many quotes that I feel are so meaningful and poignant to life, regardless of the time period. Incredible story that is now my favorite book of all time :)


Madgratess Fantastic review! I just read it for the first time and can't even find the words to describe how much I loved it. I want to immediately pick it up and read it again. I have written down many quotes that I feel are so meaningful and poignant to life, regardless of the time period. Incredible story that is now my favorite book of all time :)


Michelle Am half way through and tears have fell already. Casey, I didn't know this was also a movie. Love this book!


Elisa When I started reading it didn't look anything special and the reading went slowly for a while... But then it just cought me! I'm only sad because in some parts the english was a little too complicated for me (I'm italian) and I couldn't get the beauty of every paragraph


Martha I just finished it, here in 2014, and agree with your review 100%! It is not flashy, but there are nuggets of gold within this story that you want everyone to experience. The relationship between Francie and her Dad is priceless!


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