Maggie Campbell's Reviews > A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  Smith
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Jan 05, 2012

it was amazing

"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. Who wants to die? Everything struggles to live. Look at that tree growing up there from 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."

"Oh, I wish I was young again when everything seemed so wonderful!"

"Well, a person can cry for only so long. Then she has to find something else to do with her time."

"I know that's what people say- you'll get over it. I'd say it, too. But I know it's not true. Oh, you'll be happy again, never fear. But you won't forget."
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Reading Progress

02/05 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-18)




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message 18: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Ok, so I must admit. In my opinion nothing really happens in this book BUT it is one of the best one's I've ever read. There is just something about Francie Nolan that makes you want to keep reading till the very end so that you can watch her whole life. loved it.


message 17: by Shabina (new)

Shabina what page is this quote on!?!


message 16: by Shabina (new)

Shabina sorry that was pretty vague..
what page is the following quote on...

Who wants to die? 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.


message 15: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen I thought she said "Gay" instead of happy? Is that not pc now, did the publisher amend her writing? Weird.


Maggie Campbell Shabina, I'm really not sure...it's been awhile since I've read this book. I think that quote is from when Francie's mom is pregnant with her youngest child and Johnny has just died, but I'm not entirely sure.

Jen, you might be right. My copy said happy (don't think I would have changed that on my own)but it might have been changed from the original.


message 13: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Maggie wrote: "Shabina, I'm really not sure...it's been awhile since I've read this book. I think that quote is from when Francie's mom is pregnant with her youngest child and Johnny has just died, but I'm not ..."

aw.. that's too bad. a big part of why i enjoyed the book was just seeing how they spoke back then compared to today.


message 12: by Jen (last edited Jul 25, 2010 07:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen "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 piece of living is ever lost." (Chapter48, p. 421)

I think I just had a different copy than you ;)


message 11: by Huma (new) - added it

Huma Gorgeous quotes.


message 10: by Christen (new) - added it

Christen My book, The Harper Perennial Modern Classics ©2001, says "...life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let..."


Maggie Campbell Christen wrote: "My book, The Harper Perennial Modern Classics ©2001, says "...life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let...""

I first read this when I was a lot younger...my guess is maybe around 1997-1998ish. At some point I'll dig up my copy and check!


message 8: by Monica (new) - added it

Monica This book was originally published in 1943. I'm sure the author was speaking of 'gay' as how it meant then. "carefree, merry".


message 7: by Monica (new) - added it

Monica The Nolan's lived in Brooklyn in the early 1900's.


Natalie This is the only passage I highlighted. Perfect!


Elaine Hannock I've read this book dozens of times, until the cover fell off. When was there ever a Better character than Francie Nolan? Incredible that it was the only book Betty Smith wrote, and that the movie- which was horrible!- was never remade.


Maggie Campbell Elaine---I have read this book so many times, and still read it once a year. :) I've never seen the movie. Betty Smith has 3 other books, I think (Maggie-Now; Joy in the Morning; and another that I'm forgetting!) I read Joy in the Morning a long time ago, but can't really remember it.


message 3: by Brianne (new)

Brianne That first quote has followed me throughout my life and helped me put meaning to every heartbreak, excitement, disappointment, and joy.


Carrie Slade One of my favorite quotes from the book!


message 1: by Tammy (new) - added it

Tammy Connors Shabina, that quote us about a quarter of the way into chapter 48, I think. It's when Francie is at work and sees the headline that the war has started in April of 2017. She is trying to fix the moment firmly in her mind so it is a living thing instead of just a memory.


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