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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Paperback – September 1, 1998
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Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt who gives her love too freely--to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Francie learns early the meaning of hunger and the value of a penny. She is her father's child--romantic and hungry for beauty. But she is her mother's child, too--deeply practical and in constant need of truth. Like the Tree of Heaven that grows out of cement or through cellar gratings, resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive. Betty Smith's poignant, honest novel created a big stir when it was first published over 50 years ago. Her frank writing about life's squalor was alarming to some of the more genteel society, but the book's humor and pathos ensured its place in the realm of classics--and in the hearts of readers, young and old. (Ages 10 and older) --Emilie Coulter
"A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and a true one. It cuts right to the heart of life." -- --Orville Prescott,New York Times
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I read this book long ago while in elementary school, and decided to re-read it as part of the #bucketlistbookclub Instagram group. As I read, I realized that I have a much greater appreciation for A Tree than I did at the time of my initial reading years ago.
I wondered what I could possibly say about this classic story, that hasn’t already been said. Then I realized that talking about how the book affected me this go around would be the best approach.
Although many people think of A Tree as a children’s book, it’s far from a book that is meant only for children. The book deals with some very adult topics, but does it in a delicate enough way to be appropriate for ages 12 and up (in my opinion, at least). There are so many wonderfully truthful elements within the book that one can’t help but be almost certain that the author is writing from true life.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is full of quirky, glorious characters. The book is endearing, touching, emotional and uplifting. It’s a timeless story of love, family and coming of age. There were several chapters that truly pulled at my heartstrings. There were parts where I actually laughed aloud. In a word, this book is WONDERFUL and I can’t recommend it enough.
If you haven’t yet read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I urge you to do so. If you read it as a child, I’d encourage you to revisit the book as an adult. Absolute perfection!
My worrying was for nothing because this is truly one of the greatest novels ever written.
Oh, how I love this book. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn makes me in love with life, in love with living. It's one of the few books I've ever read that when I got to the end, I was so incredibly sad it was over and I just wanted it to keep going, even though it was already 500 pages! I wanted to follow Francie and the Nolan family forever and I felt as if I was losing a dear friend.
The story takes place in Brooklyn, New York during the early 1900's, up until about 1920, and centers around the impoverished Nolan family, and specifically Francie Nolan, a shy, bookish misfit. Francie's mother works as a janitress, cleaning several tenement buildings in their poor neighborhood to support Francie and her brother Neely because Francie's father is a drunk. It's a heart-wrenching story with many ups and downs and I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say READ IT!
Although told in the third person, the phantom narrator still manages to convey that each part of the story is being told from Francie's perspective, with her level of understanding. The narrator's tone is almost like that of Francie herself, but with the benefit of maturity; and some parts of the story are allowed to tell themselves, with the reader only coming to understand them later on in the book, as if the reader also is living Francie's life and growing in understanding as she does.
This is a masterful piece of literature. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend that you put doing so on your bucket list.