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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
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PAST Group Reads 2018 > A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- July- NO Spoilers

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message 1: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
This is the Spoiler-Free discussion thread for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, for our July 2018 Group Read.

Please do not discuss the ending, or any events in the book that might spoil it for others (as if it would be possible to spoil this book). The Spoiler thread can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

There is also an older thread with comments on the book (and why we love libraries) that you might want to read. https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


Bonnie Just got this at the library to re-read. I am surprised at how good an adult book it is. I remember loving it as kid.


Jennifer I just finished this book. I saw the movie 20 years ago in high school and didn’t realize it was a book. What a great story!


message 4: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 26, 2018 04:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
I'm listening to this in the car while I read Owen Meany in the house.

A note about the audio options. I found three different versions, voiced by different performers.

1. Audible.com Voiced by the actress Kate Burton. 14 hours 55 minutes. Her voice is professional, the pace is brisk, and the accents are subtle. (You can speed up the pace on audible without distortion.) She was in Grey's anatomy (Ellis Gray, Meredith's smart cold mom), and Scandal (Sally Landston).

2. Library CD: Voiced by Carrington MacDuffie. 16 hours. I find her voice to be warmer and more engaging, but it's also a little slower.

3, Library CD. Anna Field (I'll double check this). 14.5 hours
I'll report back on this one.


Bonnie So the copy the library sent me was an "AR" reading book (some school rating) but I was surprised to see the reading level was 5.8. I probably read it first around 7th/8th grade, but was kind of shocked reading it now (at 60) that is seemed more advanced than many adult books I read.


Ella (ellamc) | 300 comments Bonnie wrote: "I probably read it first around 7th/8th grade, but was kind of shocked reading it now (at 60) that is seemed more advanced than many adult books I read. "


I didn't read this for school, but I was in school, and very young when I read (and adored) this one. I'm about to start it (as soon as I finish Catch-22, which is taking a very long time for some reason.) I'm so interested to reread this b/c I loved it SO much as a maybe 10 year old kid? I know it was right after my grandmother died when I read it (it had been her book, and I got her books.) She died when I was 9, so I'm pretty sure I was 10 when I read it (she only had like 5 books - she was poor and not much of a reader, but she kept the books she loved.)

Everyone seems to say they're surprised at how "grown up" this book is when they read it as an adult, so I'm basically DYING to get my new copy (hers is long gone, sadly) out and read it.


message 7: by Erika (new)

Erika Kotite | 2 comments I've read this book so many times I have the first and the last lines memorized. Look forward to having an excuse to pick it up again.


Bonnie Ella wrote: "Bonnie wrote: "I probably read it first around 7th/8th grade, but was kind of shocked reading it now (at 60) that is seemed more advanced than many adult books I read. "


I didn't read this for sc..."

I am sure the things I'm noticing now were not the same things I noticed as a child.


message 9: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 27, 2018 05:56PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Erika wrote: "I've read this book so many times I have the first and the last lines memorized. Look forward to having an excuse to pick it up again."

That's great to hear. I read it when I was very young, and I saw the movie maybe twice since then. The movie is wonderful, but of course it doesn't have the depth and details that are in the book.


Linda  | 915 comments Erika wrote: "I've read this book so many times I have the first and the last lines memorized. Look forward to having an excuse to pick it up again."

Nice!


message 11: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) I read it for the first time last year as a group read with family members (mom, sister, aunt, & cousin). I liked it so much that I convinced my husband to read it. I was interested in it for 2 reasons: 1) the setting and 2) reading about its popularity with American soldiers during WWII. My grandmother and my mom and her siblings grew up in Greenpoint (Brooklyn), the neighborhood next to Williamsburg, where the book is set. Also, my grandmother would’ve been the same age as Francie! I couldn’t help wondering what similarities there were in their lives. My mom said that some parts brought back memories for her.


Diane I just finished the book. I had never read it before and I'm in my mid-60s. I really liked the book. I enjoyed it even more after reading the brief biography of the author, Betty Smith, on the back cover. She wrote the fictional book based on her life experiences growing up in Brooklyn during the same time period. You could tell that there was genuine authenticity in the way she described the hard but enjoyable times she had growing up.


Linda  | 915 comments Diane wrote: "I just finished the book. I had never read it before and I'm in my mid-60s. I really liked the book. I enjoyed it even more after reading the brief biography of the author, Betty Smith, on the back..."

I hadn't read the bio yet, but it makes perfect sense, because of that authenticity that you mention.


Linda  | 915 comments Pam wrote: "I read it for the first time last year as a group read with family members (mom, sister, aunt, & cousin). I liked it so much that I convinced my husband to read it. I was interested in it for 2 rea..."

Interesting, that it was popular among soldiers, of all people.........just soldiers from NYC? Or everyone? I'd love to know why, if you've read anything that explained its popularity with that demographic


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

Pam (bluegrasspam) Linda- I saw this topic in When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II. There was a huge effort, started by librarians and later taken on by the US War Dept, to get millions of books into the hands of soldiers during WWII. The program was immensely popular and, according to the GR synopsis of this book, "They made Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, into a national icon." There is a list at the back of the book with the titles that were distributed. It is a fascinating book and history that most of us probably have never heard about!


message 16: by Linda (last edited Jun 28, 2018 01:25PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Linda  | 915 comments Pam wrote: "Linda- I saw this topic in When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II. There was a huge effort, started by librarians and later taken on by the US War Dept,..."

Nice!
Maybe it was the best of the bunch! :D
Thanks for the info!


message 17: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jun 29, 2018 03:19PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Bonnie wrote: " . I probably read it first around 7th/8th grade, . but was kind of shocked reading it now (at 60) that is seemed more advanced than many adult books I read.

.."


I know! There is a lot of deep wisdom here, embedded in matter- of-fact observations and descriptions. There are observations and insights about things that you wouldn't think children would notice, but they do. As an adult we understand more of the implications or ironies of these observations, but there is nothing in the language that would make a child feel excluded or alarmed. It's very respectful of people in that way. So children and adults can both enjoy the book, and it respects their intelligence.

This is one thing that really impresses me about her writing:
I'm still early in the book when Francie talks plainly about her aunt's babies that were born dead, and how it affected her marriages and other aspects of life. It was very moving, but the emotions were underplayed, so the child doesn't experience too much vicarious pain. Adults might feel the passages much more deeply as they relate it to situations closer to home. The author didn't try to protect her readers (young or old) from hearing about still births, and other difficult aspects of life. This reflects both the reality of the times (the dangers of childbirth), the nature of life, and an understanding that children see more than we think the do.

We try so hard now to protect children by avoiding discussions of things they might not understand (or that we don't want to explain). If they hear or see part of a truth, but aren't allowed to talk about it, it could just confuse them, make them feel isolated or cause them to feel shame without understanding why. There were a few examples of this in A Prayer for Owen Meany, when the boys totally misunderstood something and their interpretations were worse (or in some cases just funny).

In contrast, modern Pixar animated movies also try to entertain both children and adults, and they often succeed in at least making people laugh. Some of the adult humor is very clever, but it's easy to rely too much on topics that appeal to the lowest common denominator (e.g. double entendres, mocking celebrities, and fart jokes).


message 18: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Pam wrote: "I read it for the first time last year as a group read with family members (mom, sister, aunt, & cousin). I liked it so much that I convinced my husband to read it. I was interested in it for 2 rea..."

Pam wrote: "Linda- I saw this topic in When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II. There was a huge effort, started by librarians and later taken on by the US War Dept,..."

What a wonderful story, and a nice bonding experience for your family. I love that they sent books to the soldiers, especially lovely ones about real life back home Hey, I didn't notice,,, do we have any men on this thread yet? Hey guys, soldiers loved it too.

It's so special when there is a personal connection to the setting of a book or when you can relate to characters. I recently read a (true) story about a native american woman who was the same age as my native american great grandmother. I felt personally connected to everything that happened to her (and outraged).


Parker | 204 comments I was so fortunate that my parents never shielded me from things that were going on (either with them personally or in the larger world). I think that's probably why I read adult books--I tried kid's books and they were sorely lacking. (I wrote my first serious poem when I was 7. It was about my sister's stillbirth, war, and civil rights)


message 20: by Ella (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 300 comments Parker wrote: "I was so fortunate that my parents never shielded me from things that were going on (either with them personally or in the larger world). I think that's probably why I read adult books--I tried kid..."

Funny ,I was never shielded and as I think about it, it wasn't b/c we were so good at speaking openly as a family (we weren't and still aren't. They get irritated when I try to provoke "real'" conversation as opposed to what color someone is painting their living room...) But nobody was watching what I read (I grew up long before computers were a thing in households.) Because nobody watched what I read, I read everything, and much of it faaaaaaaaaar to early to either make sense of it or usually to fully grasp the content. I learned about racism from books, and sex almost entirely from Judy Blume, and a host of other difficult topics that nobody ever talked to me about. If I'd not read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, getting my period would have been a huge shock b/c nobody else told me it was coming.


Paula NancyJ wrote: "Erika wrote: "I've read this book so many times I have the first and the last lines memorized. Look forward to having an excuse to pick it up again."

That's great to hear. I read it when I was ver..."


If I know a book has been made into a movie, I try to read the book first.

"Never judge a book by its movie." **she smiles** ;>)


Linda  | 915 comments Paula wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "Erika wrote: "I've read this book so many times I have the first and the last lines memorized. Look forward to having an excuse to pick it up again."

That's great to hear. I read it..."


I'm usually the same way.
Some exceptions: I'd consider reading Crichton's Jurassic Park. And I think I might be interested in reading "Dietland", because I'm watching the series, know from a friend that it's not exactly the same as the book, and the series gets a lot of things right.


message 23: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
I love this discussion. Pam, Diane, Linda, Erika, Jennifer, Jacinta - can you get us started on the spoiler thread? Can you think of (or find) some good discussion questions? Or continue to share experiences?

This is a book that deserves a deep discussion, and you can talk about anything on the spoiler thread.

I'm sidelined with recurrent headaches right now, but I'll catch up eventually.

=====
Pam wrote: "I read it for the first time last year as a group read with family members (mom, sister, aunt, & cousin). I liked it so much that I convinced my husband to read it. I was interested in it for 2 rea..."

Diane wrote: "I just finished the book. I had never read it before and I'm in my mid-60s. I really liked the book. I enjoyed it even more after reading the brief biography of the author, Betty Smith, on the back..."

Erika wrote: "I've read this book so many times I have the first and the last lines memorized. Look forward to having an excuse to pick it up again."

Jennifer wrote: "I just finished this book. I saw the movie 20 years ago in high school and didn’t realize it was a book. What a great story!"


message 24: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) Is there an assumption on the spoiler thread that readers have finished the book? I’d be glad to add some discussion comments.


message 25: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jul 02, 2018 08:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Pam wrote: "Is there an assumption on the spoiler thread that readers have finished the book? I’d be glad to add some discussion comments."

Thank you Pam!

Yes. You can assume they've finished, or they knowingly risked reading spoilers. (I peek ahead sometimes if it's not a mystery.) A handful of people seem to have finished, so there's no reason to wait for the rest of us. You can discuss anything, without having to talk in vague terms.

I know a few people have expressed a desire to have deeper discussions here than in many other groups. We can say a lot more than I liked it, or didn't like it, especially with a great book.

I have a comment that I've been thinking about since last night. I'll post it on the spoiler thread now before I forget.


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

Tom Mathews I've never read this book before but I have heard a lot of good things about it so I am looking forward to listening to the audio version of it this month. It's interesting to see that I appear to be the only male reader interested in this one.


message 27: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) Tom- My husband loved this book! I didn’t read it for years because I thought it was a kids book. But, it really isn’t, although it is appropriate for younger readers. Hope you enjoy it!


message 28: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
I was listening (not reading) so I think I missed something. What was it that Sissy had in a box that the kids got out and hung out the window? (Was it a condom? I remember she worked in a rubber factory, but I didn't think it was that kind of rubber.)


message 29: by Ella (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 300 comments I promise, as soon as I finish 100 Years of Solitude (which I promised I'd read before I realized I'd also have 100 books to read this summer) I'll be hopping on this one. I'm worried I might mix them up if I read both at once.


message 30: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Ella wrote: "I promise, as soon as I finish 100 Years of Solitude (which I promised I'd read before I realized I'd also have 100 books to read this summer) I'll be hopping on this one. I'm worried I might mix t..."

I'm trying to get out of the habit of multitasking too. This is a book you can read a little at a time, and it makes sense. 100 Years of Solitude requires more focused attention, so I wouldn't rush through it.

100 books this summer? I know you're joking, or I hope you are. I'm trying to slow down and savor what I'm reading. I have an old 1960's song in my head. "Slow down, you move too fast. You've got to make the morning last. Just, kicking down the cobblestone .... Feeling Groovy."


Paula NancyJ wrote: "Pam wrote: "Is there an assumption on the spoiler thread that readers have finished the book? I’d be glad to add some discussion comments."

Thank you Pam!

Yes. You can assume they've finished, o..."


Thanks always for making both a no-spoiler thread and a spoiler thread. I don't like for people to mention things they're read "so far" in a story in a general comment thread. If I'm not as far along as another reader is and they make comments to spoil things, it makes me feel like I got cheated. So yeah, thanks again. And thank you for moderating. That's a tough job.


Linda  | 915 comments Hi Nancy
Sorry to be awol, but thought I´d given you the heads up that I´d have company in town this week. Haven´t turned on the computer since Sunday. and got up at 4.45 this am to do the early airport run.

I can´t do the spoiler thread as I´ve not finished it. That´s why I was wondering if, rather than have spoiler-non spoiler threads, we could divide a book into segments (divide by chapters). Just a thought. That way, people can comment on the chapters they´ve read, with no fear of spoilers. If not, okay, but I´d only do one for a book I´ve finished.


Linda  | 915 comments NancyJ wrote: "I was listening (not reading) so I think I missed something. What was it that Sissy had in a box that the kids got out and hung out the window? (Was it a condom? I remember she worked in a rubber f..."

Yes, haha, that´s what I understood. These days, parents would be mortified, but most other adults would try to laugh it off, to make them feel better. They just moved!


message 34: by Ella (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 300 comments Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Hi Nancy
Sorry to be awol, but thought I´d given you the heads up that I´d have company in town this week. Haven´t turned on the computer since Sunday. and got up at 4.45 this am to do the early ai..."


No pressure! Nancy just meant that anyone who has finished, or isn't worried about spoilers should feel free to chat about it in that thread.

We're dividing up Lonesome Dove into sections for an easier time with this. We were a bit worried about having too many threads for a book (confusing to find and tough for those who read & just want to discuss) but I agree, there are things I think about while reading a book that I'll forget when I'm done (unless I start taking as long to make notes as I do to read.) Perhaps we should consider a pre-read, during read and finished/spoiler thread?

I dunno - but this does seem to come up fairly often. Maybe we should have a new thread..


message 35: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda - I tried to send some people to the spoiler thread because I knew they were already done. I mistakenly included you in that list.

It's still early in the month, so we have plenty of time to finish and discuss it. I've been making comments in the spoiler thread as they come to me, even though I'm not done yet (otherwise I'll forget).


message 36: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "I was listening (not reading) so I think I missed something. What was it that Sissy had in a box that the kids got out and hung out the window? (Was it a condom? I remember she worke..."

That's not a good lesson to teach kids - if you get embarrassed just move. But I guess when you're living near a lot of judgmental and mean people, it might be smart to move. (There is a situation in the middle of the book with a girl named Joanna and mean neighbors.)


message 37: by Tom (last edited Jul 09, 2018 11:09AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews Ella wrote: "I promise, as soon as I finish 100 Years of Solitude ...."

I should use that response next time my daughter asks me to buy her a car. I don't think she could leave it alone for a week. ;>).


message 38: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Tom wrote: "Ella wrote: "I promise, as soon as I finish 100 Years of Solitude ...."

I should use that response next time my daughter asks me to buy her a car. I don't think she could leave it alone for a week..."


Haha. I don't envy you that. The biggest shock for me was how much my auto insurance rates went up just because they were living in my house. Even though they didn't have cars yet.


message 39: by Ella (last edited Jul 10, 2018 04:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 300 comments NancyJ wrote: "Tom wrote: "Ella wrote: "I promise, as soon as I finish 100 Years of Solitude ...."

I should use that response next time my daughter asks me to buy her a car. I don't think she could leave it alon..."


One way to get your kids to lay off the car begging is to require them to pay their own insurance. This was the deal for me when I turned 16. Since I had zero hope of actually paying the insurance, I didn't bother getting my license until I was nearly 18, when I lived in NY and had no need for a car anymore.

Or, you could make your daughter read 100 years of solitude!

As for the book, I am officially starting this on Saturday at midnight for my 24in48 read-a-thon.


message 40: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Ella wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "Tom wrote: "Ella wrote: "I promise, as soon as I finish 100 Years of Solitude ...."

I should use that response next time my daughter asks me to buy her a car. I don't think she coul..."


what is 24/48? 24 books? haha or 24 hours of reading?


message 41: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
I finally finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I enjoyed reading it a little at a time. I will miss Francie and her family.


Linda  | 915 comments I just finished it, today, too!
At her first job (the stems), I truly could identify with the way she felt. So happy for her mother, too. I was hoping it would work out the way it did.


message 43: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) My favorite part was the scene with the nurse. I loved when Francie told her that she heard her and she didn’t need to repeat the message to her brother. I loved her spunk! The reaction from the nurse & doctor was so interesting. It was like they had no idea that poor people have feelings, too.


Linda  | 915 comments Pam wrote: "My favorite part was the scene with the nurse. I loved when Francie told her that she heard her and she didn’t need to repeat the message to her brother. I loved her spunk! The reaction from the nu..."

Exactly what I just said on the spoiler thread, on a different matter! :)


message 45: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam (bluegrasspam) I didn’t realize I was on the No Spoilers thread! I’m on my phone and didn’t see the full header.


message 46: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Pam wrote: "My favorite part was the scene with the nurse. I loved when Francie told her that she heard her and she didn’t need to repeat the message to her brother. I loved her spunk! The reaction from the nu..."

And it was like they didn't think she could hear them or understand English!


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