El's Reviews > A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  Smith
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bookshelves: 20th-centurylit-early, young-adult-n-kids, peer-pressure

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 started coming together for me somewhere after the 200-page mark. Things actually started happening, and the chapters weren't just excuses to explain some sort of mundane aspect of Francie's life. I don't need a lot of melodrama in my literature, but there needs to be some sort of conflict. Some sort of obstacle to overcome. Some sort of tension. This book lacked that for a good portion of the story.

When things did get interesting, I started to understand why so many people love this book. Personally I don't love it. It didn't make me weep, though I admit to tearing up maybe once. I think this is another one of those books that I should have read when I was much younger to have a full appreciation for this coming-of-age novel.

I can appreciate it for what it is. But it didn't change my life.
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Reading Progress

December 21, 2011 – Started Reading
December 22, 2011 – Shelved
December 22, 2011 –
page 92
18.66% "Does anything actually happen in this book??"
December 25, 2011 – Shelved as: 20th-centurylit-early
December 25, 2011 – Shelved as: young-adult-n-kids
December 25, 2011 – Shelved as: peer-pressure
December 25, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-35 of 35 (35 new)

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message 1: by Cait (new) - added it

Cait Poytress No, apparently you are the second to last person to read this book. But I will get to it... someday.


message 2: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Hey, yeah, maybe you could read this with your daughters. Seems a lot of people were really touched by this book around 12 or 13. Are any of your daughters around that age?


Chinook Good to know that it would probably make a bad reread as an adult, because I remember loving this book.


message 4: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El It might still hold some of the same magic for you if you loved it as a kid, Chinook. Kinda like Harriet the Spy for me - I might not have loved it if I read it first as an adult. But since I read it when was like ten and a gazillion times since it will always remain a magical book that I feel changed my life. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn might be that way for you.

In any case I would love for you to re-read this and let me know if your impressions have changed over the years.


message 5: by Cait (new) - added it

Cait Poytress El wrote: "Hey, yeah, maybe you could read this with your daughters. Seems a lot of people were really touched by this book around 12 or 13. Are any of your daughters around that age?"

That's actually a great idea, El. My oldest daughter is 11 and just started middle school this year.


Sarah I just finished this book and felt exactly the same way about it. It didn't interest me much for the first couple hundred pages, but toward the end it had my attention.


Maggie I don't think you have to be particularly young to enjoy this book. I first read it when I was around 16, and even now as a college student I love going back to reread it because it's so inspiring. But to each his own, I suppose :)


message 8: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El I see what you're saying, Maggie. But I think even at 16 I would have felt differently about this book, or even while I was a college student. At 33, however, it didn't work for me that much.


Paul Shirley Spot-on take, I say. Lack of tension/conflict was murderous.


message 10: by Phyllis (new) - added it

Phyllis A lost generation,most people under the age of fifty or sixty could not relate to this wonderful book.Plus the age of interest,imagination,and respect seems to be fading faster.Too much tech,spoiling,and not enough family,love,and God.


message 11: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Okaaaay. But it's not like you're being judgmental or anything.

Do me a favor - do not judge me on my own book reviews. Plain and simple.


Chinook I love that book and am well under 50. But I'm not so keen on God.


message 13: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Well, you just blew her theory, Chinook! Not that it was a solid theory based on anything real to begin with, but still.


Julie I'm with Chinook


message 15: by Phyllis (new) - added it

Phyllis You have a right to your review,point given,and my comment was well proved by your own comments.


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

El Yawn.


Lizzy Thank you for this post. I am currently at page 208 and was debating not finishing, but I will now knowing that it picks up.


Christine YOU were right on! Once I hit page 200, the book took off and I fell in love! Thank you for keeping me going!


message 19: by Toni (new) - rated it 3 stars

Toni Tortorello-Allaway Could not agree with you more!


message 20: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Thanks a lot, jerk. Now I'm craving a potato soft taco from Taco Bell. ;)


message 21: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Nicole wrote: "Thanks a lot, jerk. Now I'm craving a potato soft taco from Taco Bell. ;)"

My work here is done! :)


message 22: by Marcia (new) - added it

Marcia Oh good. I thought I was crazy.... I will keep chugging away at the next 150 pages to get to the good part. This is not my idea of fun!


Candi This is encouraging. I'm on page 142 and I keep waiting for something to happen. I will press on patiently. Thanks


Sarah Zabel My good friend highly recommended the book. She loved it, so I figured it was worth purchasing instead of checking it out from the library. I'm 47 pages in and kind of wanting my $13 back! I'll press through based on your review and for my friend's sake.


message 25: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El I hope it comes around for you, Sarah. I really wish it had worked better for me. But I am also glad to hear from some of you who have made me feel like I'm less in the minority on this one.


message 26: by Joni (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joni Taylor Yeah, I felt the same exact way, I don't remember if I finished it when I read last year but you summed it up perfectly, I don't need a lot of drama but...something. Glad I don't feel like an outcast for not liking this as well.


message 27: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Thanks for commenting, Joni. I am glad to see I'm not alone!


message 28: by Ami (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ami Brigman I agree totally. Liked the second half of the book much more.


Nancy Agree. I ended up liking this book but it took a long time. I found another book, Joy in the Morning, by the same author, to be more immediately engaging (and shorter). I first read it as a teenager and then just recently reread it as an adult. It's still charming and one of my favorites.


message 30: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Thanks for your comment, Nancy. I've heard of Joy in the Morning, but haven't read it. Glad to hear it get some love - one only hears primarily about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, so I worried Joy in the Morning wouldn't be worth reading. I will definitely check it out now.


message 31: by Frances (new) - added it

Frances I'd be the last, then?


Vivian Aird My thoughts exactly, El! Glad to see it wasn't just me who wasn't exactly "hooked" by this book.


message 33: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Vivian wrote: "My thoughts exactly, El! Glad to see it wasn't just me who wasn't exactly "hooked" by this book."

Yay! Another one! :)


message 34: by El (new) - rated it 3 stars

El Frances wrote: "I'd be the last, then?"

How did I miss this!? Hah, nah, there are others who haven't read it yet either. Though now I'm curious your thoughts on it.


Diane Agree. Ho hum.


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