Sarah's Reviews > A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  Smith
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it was amazing
bookshelves: american-as-apple-pie, classics, favorites, bildungsroman, book-club-rg, pants-crappingly-awesome
Recommended for: everyone

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, Francie Nolan. She is a sweet, innocent girl who grows and flourishes despite a harsh environment of neglect and poverty.

I fell in love with Francie. I loved her childlike innocence and the way she could be so delighted with things we take for granted: things like a flower in a brown bowl, freshly sharpened pencils, dancing shadows on her pillow, shiny stars. I love her pluckiness; I loved the way she refused to conform to the mold her teacher tried to force on her, the way she pulls herself out of poverty by working hard, even though it means giving up on some dreams.

But the novel is about so much more than just Francie. This is a beautifully moving portrayal of the human condition and the plight of the downtrodden, similar to the work of Steinbeck, though more hopeful. There is so much American pride coming from the point of view of poor immigrants and their children. The heroes of this book are not great men. They are ordinary people. They are flawed. And they are beautiful.

I just want to hold all of them tight until they holler out, "Let me go! Let me go!"
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Reading Progress

September 16, 2007 – Shelved
Started Reading
March 31, 2008 – Shelved as: american-as-apple-pie
March 31, 2008 – Shelved as: classics
March 31, 2008 – Shelved as: favorites
March 31, 2008 – Finished Reading
July 24, 2012 – Shelved as: bildungsroman
July 24, 2012 – Shelved as: book-club-rg
December 7, 2012 – Shelved as: pants-crappingly-awesome

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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Debby The only other person who has read this book as many times as myself, in my small circle of readers,is my husband's 86 year old grandmother.And she loved to read it with a small bag of candy within reach. Such an uplifting story!![ My 22and23 year old daughters also love Francie's tale.:]


message 2: by Ivory (new)

Ivory I've never read this book, but your review makes me wanna go to my bookstore and read it right away!


Brian thanks for this review. i've been on the fence about this book but will give it a try.


Dottie Perfectly on target review, Sarah.


Aimee Fuller Well said! Great review of a great book! :)


message 6: by Stephanie (new) - added it

Stephanie Weeks I follow your reviews and just picked up this book from the library in the YA section on a complete whim. So glad you enjoyed it!


Sarah I hope you love it as much as I did!


Annagail I love that part of the book that you quoted. One of my favorite parts, although it is incredibly hard to choose favorites when it comes to this book.


Carrie Slade Beautiful review! I loved this book!


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