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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN AMERICAN CLASSIC...
Written over sixty years ago, time has not diminished the capacity of this book to capture the reader's heart. This coming of age story that takes place in turn of the century Brooklyn will simply enthrall the reader with its descriptive passages and its richly developed characters. This book survives the passage of time without becoming anachronistic, because the themes...
Published on Dec 10 2007 by Lawyeraau

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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I had always meant to read this book and, at age 22, I finally got around to it. Making this purchase was an excellent decision.
This is the heartwarming story of a little girl growing up in--where else?--Brooklyn with her older brother, her overworked mother, and her deadbeat, drunken father. It follows her over a significant period of her life, making it one of the...
Published on July 17 2003 by S.R.W. Phillips


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN AMERICAN CLASSIC..., Dec 10 2007
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Paperback)
Written over sixty years ago, time has not diminished the capacity of this book to capture the reader's heart. This coming of age story that takes place in turn of the century Brooklyn will simply enthrall the reader with its descriptive passages and its richly developed characters. This book survives the passage of time without becoming anachronistic, because the themes upon which it touches are universal ones.

The story centers on the Nolan family. The central character is the daughter, Mary Frances Nolan. Known as "Francie" to all and sundry, she is an intelligent child growing up in poverty in the tenements of Brooklyn with her charming father, a singing waiter and an alcoholic, her hard-working and practical, no-nonsense mother, and her younger brother, who enjoys favored son status in his mother's heart. Surrounding the family are a host of characters that are richly drawn and serve to add to the ambiance of the story as it enfolds.

The events that transpire in the book are seen through Francie's eyes. Her family's struggle with poverty, her father's alcoholism, her mother's steely-eyed determination to keep her family afloat, and Francie's thirst for knowledge and desire for higher education all serve to make this child strong and thrive, where others might only despair. Such is Francie's strength of character. It is that strength that helps her to battle her self-doubts, her loneliness, and lack of friends, while growing up.

This is a beautifully rendered story, a true American classic that will keep the reader turning its pages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do not write wonderful character books like this anymore!, June 11 2013
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a wonderful story of love and family where love wins out and love endures in spite of imperfections and adversity. It is good for us to read about the poverty and hunger people live through and work so hard to survive. Each character in the book was interesting in their own way. I recommend this book to everyone
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, Inspiring, Hard to Put Down, Sept. 25 2011
By 
CanadianMother (Ontario) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Paperback)
I picked this book up on the recommendation of a friend, who mentioned that reading it made her feel rich in comparison to the family in the book. I was therefore a bit nervous that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn might be a depressing story. But my fears were unfounded. In reality, this book is an uplifting, inspiring story of how one family, living in a poor neighbourhood of Brooklyn in the early 1900s, manage to not only survive, but to pull themselves up to better circumstances, through hard work, perseverance, and a positive attitude. The setting, which in reality is the exact neighbourhood the author grew up in, is fully realized and filled with interesting and colourful details and happenings.

The main character in the book is a book-loving girl named Francie, who is a realistic, likeable character. In fact, all the characters in this book are realistic and likeable. I felt when I was reading it like they were real people whom I came to care about. And when the story came to an end, I felt sorry that I had to say goodbye to them. I wanted to find out what happened next to Katie, Francie, and Neely, as well as Aunt Sissy and her children.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these characters, and I was touched by the love they showed for each other. Yes, there is some sadness in the book, and I did cry a few times. But the general tone of the book is an uplifting one. I'm glad I read this book, and I know that I will remember it for a long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Francie Nolan's Story Survives Like the Tree that Grows in Brooklyn, May 16 2011
This review is from: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Paperback)
This story of a girl who comes of age just before the Roaring Twenties of the 20th century reaches across the changes of the last 100 years to resonate just as powerfully today. As a boomer who read this book in her early 20s I loved Francie Nolan then and reading it again at age 63 I love her now. She is as tough and tenacious as the tree that grows outside her Brooklyn apartment in a poor, hard-scrabble neighbourhood. She beats the odds: poverty, an alcoholic father, sibling rivalry for her mother's affection, the heartache of first love. The vivid re-creation of that era and place captivates the reader and I believe the young women of today who rediscover this gem of a novel will get lost in Francie's world and find the enchantment I did. A book for all times and all seasons!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, Jan. 11 2007
This review is from: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Paperback)
This is a novel to be read and enjoyed for many different reasons. As an initial matter, it paints a portrait of Brooklyn at the turn of the twentieth century. Many books contain descriptions, but this book contains something more. I could hear the chaos on the streets, including the noisy children, horses and vendors. I could smell and taste the coffee that Francie's mother left boiling on the stove at all hours of the day and night. It went beyond mere description--this novel involved all of my senses and made me truly feel what it was like to live in that time and place.

Beyond the amazing imagery is a somewhat simple story of a family in crisis. Johnny, the father, drinks too much and can't hold a job but is the light and life of the family. Katie, the mother, loves her family ferociously, but has been imbittered by the strain that Johnny and their perpetual state of poverty places upon her. The story truly belongs to Francie and Neely, the two children, who survive by staying together, inventing stories and games for each other, and finding joy in their meager surroundings.

The most noteworthy aspect of the novel, to me, was its utter anger. I have heard Steinbeck's Travels with Charley described as "an angry book". A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was much angrier. Francie's childlike but astute observations concerning how society ignores the needs and struggles of the working poor explode with anger. Francie's shining moment is when she shames the doctor who comments in front of her that all poor people are dirty, without thinking that she and her brother can understand him. Sissy's shining moment is when she shames Francie's teacher who ignores poor children to the point that she fails to release them to use the bathroom, causing them to have humiliating accidents. Even Francie's and Neely's victories contain an undercurrent of anger. They catch the leftover Christmas tree, warming the heart of the peddler who threw it. But because he is poor, he cannot openly be happy for them, and has to throw curses after them as they parade home with their prize.

This book contains magic and heartbreak, heroics and cowardice, beauty and hideousness. It describes what it was like to be a poor child in Brooklyn in 1908. Above all, it reminds us that poverty and human behavior is universal. Shamefully, children and adults are still going through what Francie and her family went through 100 years ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic!, June 1 2014
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A story of an ordinary family struggling to make ends meet in difficult times. It could almost be 'the book about nothing', yet like the comedy show with the same catch line, I was captivated and couldn't put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, Sept. 15 2013
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This book is truly brilliant. It is really beautifully written, thought-provoking, evocative and moving; a real classic and definite must-read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book and movie, Dec 31 2006
This review is from: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Paperback)
What can you say about a classic? This is known to many now as just a movie, but I have to say that the book is even better. If you liked Carson McCuller's THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER, or TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, then TREE will warm your heart the same way.

Set in (obviously) Brooklyn in the early part of the last century, it is the story of struggle and hope. I was expecting a palid and dim copy of the movie, not-so-brought to life, but instead I got a riveting tale. Betty Smith is an excellent writer and this book can be read by children as well as adults.

While this is one of my top five favorite books, I would also recommend the novel EAST OF EDEN for those who like a longer, more complex story. Steinbeck at his best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've lived it--and a tree really does grow, Feb. 8 2005
When I got this book, I had a warm feeling because I knew it was a classic and because I rarely get American books. I experienced the same thing with a copy of THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD and the great and compelling novel by Steinbeck titled OF MICE AND MEN. I think this is a good choice. A good thing about this book is that Betty Smith tells all about every member of the Rommely and Nolan families, as well as other people, even though this isn't important to the plot. She isn't realistic the way modern children's writers are, but she gives lots of little details. I love the parts about the Catholic religion. My favorite character is Mary Rommely, and I enjoy daydreaming of being cared for by her or Sissy. I like the part where she tells Katie how to raise her daughter. This could be used in real life, even today. Katie is very smart, hard-working and strong-willed. Sometimes she seems too stern, but other times she is kind and understanding. I can most identify with Francie when she argues with her teacher, Miss Gardner over her writing. Also, same as her, I keep imagining things, so I liked the part when she's told to write down stories instead of speaking lies. (Only writing takes much more effort!) I think part of what it makes this a serious novel is that sometimes little sad details are included. I don't mean the kind describing the cruel school system, but softer ones: the father Johnny being a bum; Francie and Katie knowing it would never again be all right between them. However, there are also some parts telling of good times. This is a good book to read, and after you've read it, you can browse through it again and enjoy your favorite parts separately.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful classic!, July 18 2004
I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was about twelve years old, and I decided to give it a whirl once again. I recommend that adults who loved this book as a child return to it because the magic of reading it is as wonderful and beautiful in your adult years as it was when you were a child. The story of Francie Nolan and her family will most likely have a different and interesting effect on the reader, or at least it had a different effect on me this time around. Francie is a bright young girl growing up in a poor, but hardworking family in 1912 Brooklyn. Although her life is a constant struggle over money, she still manages to eke out much joy. The novel, which does not really have a plot, is rather a collection of vignettes about Francie's life. While so much of her life appeared to be conspiring against her success, she never gave in to defeatism. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an inspiring and beautiful story that people of all ages will love. I cannot recommend this book enough.
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A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Paperback - Jan. 6 2005)
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