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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Modern Classics) Paperback – Deckle Edge, May 30, 2006
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“One of the most dearly beloved and finest books of our day.” (Orville Prescott)
“One of the books of the century.” (New York Public Library)
“A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one. It cuts right to the heart of life. . . . If you miss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you will deny yourself a rich experience.” (New York Times)
From the Back Cover
The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness -- in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.
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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.
I watched the movie by the same title and wish I hadn't! It is such a weak adaptation of the story where the emotions are totally absent and the characters not very credible. IMHO, read the book, or listen to it, but stay away from the movie.