Diane S ☔'s Reviews > A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  Smith
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really liked it

My story of this book. I never read this back during my school days though I was probably given the opportunity. I had two elective English classes where we were given a choice between three books, this was probably one but I chose another. Sometime within the passing years I bought a copy and put it in the book shelf that is next to my television, where it has stared at me for years, subtly asking ng is it my turn yet? When my friend Brina said she was reading this book and did anyone want to read Al ng with her, I looked at the book and thought, go for it. It was finally this books turn. I opened the page.....

Started reading and fell in love with the story of Francie and her family, living in Brooklyn during the early 1900's. Kate her mother, a very strong woman who worked extremely hard, Johnny her charming, hard drinking Irish father and her brother Neely a short year younger than herself. Francie was a remarkable character, how she thinks, the special love she had for her father, who despite his drinking managed to be there when she really needed him. We read as this family weathers changes in livelihood, living conditions and the many changes taking place in the world.

Although it was Brooklyn it could have been my neighborhood in Chicago, sixty years later when I was growing up. Somethings had changed, my neighborhood was Irish, Polish and Italian and instead of being secluded but ethnicity we all played together, in the streets sidewalks and alleys. If there was any division it was between those who were Catholic and went to Catholic school and the public's as we called them, who did not. There were still corner stores and our mothers not driving, we were often sent to the stores. Hard drinking Irishmen, we had those too, the ones who closed the bars and walked home weaving but singing. This book was so easy to identify with, the characters so realistic, well, I was smitten, wanted good things to happen for them. The one thing that has changed from back then that I envied them for, was the closeness of families, where everyone worked together, remained close. We don't have this anymore in this global world and that's a shame imo.

Would I have appreciated all the nuances of family life within this story, the struggles they went through if I had read this when I was in school, I think not. I think reading this as an adult I was more able to identify and understand what each decision cost them, how hard they fought for survival. I think I read this at the perfect time, plus now it is no longer staring at me unread.
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Quotes Diane S ☔ Liked

The world was hers for the reading.
“The world was hers for the reading.”
Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Reading Progress

June 18, 2017 – Started Reading
June 18, 2017 – Shelved
June 20, 2017 –
page 325
June 20, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-29 of 29 (29 new)

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message 1: by Ace (new)

Ace Looking forward to your review Diane as I've been unsure about reading this.

message 2: by Rita (new) - added it

Rita Schuldt This is one of those always wanted to read but never got to. Let me know if I need to move it up my list.

message 3: by Britany (new) - added it

Britany I haven't gotten to this one yet either...

Phrynne Usually you and I seem to like the same books Diane but not this one!!! I really did not like it which amazed me because it is so generally popular.
Oh well we can't all like everything:)

Angela M Read this so many years ago and don't remember a lot of it but you make such a good point of appreciating it more as an adult. Can't help but think that there are so many we've read in our younger days and would probably think differently about . Wonderful review, Diane .

message 6: by Diane (new)

Diane Barnes I read this as a 12 year old and loved it. Then read it again as an adult and was amazed to find out it was a different book than when I read it as a child. I still loved it, but for different reasons. So much of it went over my head when I was young. This book was not actually written as a children's book, but for adults.

message 7: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Masterson Terrific review, Diane! :)

Karen Great review! I loved this book!

message 9: by Dana (new) - added it

Dana Wonderful review! I haven't read this yet, but sounds like I need to!

Mary Beth *Traveling Sister* Fantastic review Diane! I read this a long time ago but remember liking it a lot.

message 11: by Sonja (new)

Sonja Arlow English is not my first language so I never had the opportunity to read this in high school. I started this a few days ago and although I can see why so many people love this I didnt really connect with the characters. I exchanged this for a book set in South Africa in the 1970's and that's when I realised that reading a book that connects you to your roots or childhood really does make a huge difference. Lovely review as always, I may try this again at some point.

PattyMacDotComma Lovely review, DIane! Like you, I somehow missed reading this, and I now have a copy to read . . . so, after your review, I think I'll try to move it to a spot to get my attention!

I found it on Open Library (couldn't find any library copies here). Some you have to read in the browser. This had a PDF you could download to read.


Diane S ☔ Thanks so much everyone for commenting. I think Phrynne, like Sonja said, I could identify with this book and I am sure others who liked it felt the same. If you cant identify with the story or the characters than I can see where you would not like the story.

Thanks for posting that link Patty.

message 14: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Very nice review, Diane! It's always nice when you can connect with a book in that way.

Cathrine ☯️ D. That was one very patient book. And I so agree about the time frame for reading. So many books I read in my youth had no platform at such an early age. Thoughtful review.

message 16: by Bkwmlee (new) - added it

Bkwmlee Great review! I've got this one on my shelf staring at me as well! Hopefully will be able to get to it someday soon!

Diane S ☔ Thank you Melissa, it definitely is.

Thanks C. I have many, many patient books. I call it my retirement stash.

Thank you, Bkwmlee.

☮Karen Read this in high school and treasured it.

Brina Diane I'm so glad that you read this with me. My father's Chicago neighborhood was a little different than yours but his stories still harken to a more wholesome time. I will be happy to read along with you any time 😊

B the BookAddict Good review, Diane. I also felt familiar with the Catholics 'versus' the high (schools) too. I loved this novel and like you, did not read it until fairly recently.

Diane S ☔ I will treasure this too, Karen

Thanks Brina and the same goes for me. It was quick but fun.

Thanks B, such a funny but memorable time. Seems so silly but at the time it felt important.

message 22: by Wendy (new) - added it

Wendy Great review Diane! I have yet to read this too

message 23: by Sara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sara Always so wonderful when a book finds us at just the right time in life. Loved your review.

message 24: by Iris P (new) - added it

Iris P What a beautiful review Diane, reading about your own upbringing and how it compares with the backdrop of the novel was wonderful! Thank you for sharing that personal insight.

Cheri What a wonderful, poignant review, Diane. I share your sentiments! This was, next to - or maybe right after - Gone With the Wind in my mother's list of favourites. Just these two. She urged me to read it periodically through the years, but I knew nothing about it. I finally bought a copy of this maybe 20 years ago, and just loved it. Loved that world, Francis's view of the world, her hopes and dreams. Where I grew up was very small town in comparison, but I do remember every year she'd take me to Macy's in NYC (back to school shopping) and then after to Brooklyn and the Village, so I was familiar with the area, that and having friends who lived there in the 70s. Loved your review!!

message 26: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen This was a great story - as is your review. It certainly was a special and memorable one. Glad you loved it too.

message 27: by Carla (new) - added it

Carla Johnson-Hicks Wonderful review. I have not read this one, but just added it to my TBR.

message 28: by Connie (new)

Connie Classic and timeless. So glad you finally got to it.

message 29: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine Looks like one for me, Diane. Enjoyed your review and personal comments immensely.

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