A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Online eBook by Betty Smith Click Here to Download the Book 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.
Reviews A Tree grows in Brooklyn is a moving novel that allows you to see into the life of a poor young girl. Francie Nolan is the protagonist of this novel. Francie is very imaginative and takes in the little details that are around her. Francie is poor but that doesn't mean she looks down upon others. In fact she tries to make the best of her current conditions. As Francie moves up in life she does not forget her heritage as a poor girl from Brooklyn. Always remember who you are is one of the themes in this novel. I think this is a beautiful lesson because can be easy to forget about your past. You should hold on to the memory of your past because it's what makes you who you are now. Similar to Francie I like to look at the world in a different way. I try to not look at the things in this world that makes me unhappy. This point of view is not a good one because you should look at the world as a whole. That way you can understand why certain things happen. This could be the reason why Francie questions the world so much.
This is a gem of a book-- very well written and styled. The characters were multi-dimensional and easy to fall in love with, as was early 20th century Brooklyn. I was especially inspired by Kate Rommely, the mother whose determination to struggle through poverty and hardship eventually lifted her children out of the tough life they were born into. Her husband, sisters, and mother were at times tragic characters, at times inspiring, at times comical, but all likeable. The theme of reading and education is inspiring, especially the idea that small changes such as reading a page of the Bible and a page of Shakespeare daily to one's children could have such a powerful long-term effect on their lives. I had never read a book about circumstances in Brooklyn in the early 1900's and I really enjoyed a peek into its world. What made it even more fascinating is all the changes that occurred in this period-- from electric lighting to automobiles to the war. It was also fascinating to see how the poor lived, though it was sad, too. (though Smith solicits our pity, she also allows the characters to recognize what a wonderful learning experience it was and to wish their growing sister could have experienced what they did) The only complaint I have is the end was a bit slow. She sort of creeped through Francie's teens and that got a bit tedious. Her blend of humor, descriptive imagery, characterization, and the triumph of hard work and education make this a true masterpiece.
This is one of my mother's favorite books and she first recommended it to me years ago. Maybe decades. I only just read it now. Shame on me. So many stories feature rich, powerful, "important" people, or, more prevalent these days, vampires and wizards. It's not too difficult to engage the interest of the reader when the fate of the world (or galaxy, universe, multiverse, etc.) is on the line. Crafting memorable characters is a lot easier if those characters
possess supernatural abilities and can turn into different animals, or fly, or at the very least are archetypal heroes of mythic proportions, capable of contesting with malevolent adversaries of great evil. It's a lot more difficult to create the same level tension with a poor family of ordinary folks in Brooklyn, who manage to make a soup bone and half an onion last a week, or devise innovative applications for old rags. A story needs an antagonist. Something must always be relentlessly thwarting the efforts of our protagonists, or you don't have a story. You have a teenager's blog. A rambling uninteresting account of the minutiae of someone elses' boring life. Gun-toting thugs working on behalf of a nefarious conspiracy have always done it for me, and I'm partial to sentient simulacra hellbent on the destruction of their creator. A nice explosion never fails to get my attention. Most of us will rarely have to contend with these types of adversaries. Life itself is a struggle, but unless this struggle is handled extremely deftly, the resulting narrative is going to be a lot less interesting than an epic battle of good versus evil, with lots of fiery conflagrations, or magic, or something else entirely outside our own experience, which we can hardly wait to see rendered with modern CGI technology up on the big screen when Steven Spielberg or James Cameron gets a hold of it. Nothing explodes. There are no supernatural beings. No secret agents. No evil sorcerers or wicked monsters of any kind, unless you count the brief appearance of a child molester. There is only a single gunshot in the whole story. No killer robots. And there's no sex, either. With one notable exception,* it's a lot closer to my actual life than it is to most of the books I read. And yet I kept turning the pages, rapt with interest in the life of this extraordinary, "ordinary" girl.
I first read this book in the 8th grade and I still I sob, and I mean sob, every time I read this book. It's such a simple story--Francie Nolan is a smart little girl who's trying to find beauty in her sometimes ugly, always poverty-stricken life. Her adored father is wonderful, but too plagued by his own demons to support his family. Her mother loves her children fiercely but is often harsh because she thinks it's her job to keep them grounded in reality (oh, and she seems to love Francie's brother more). Her aunt is a bit of a floozy, but is still kind and generous. Together, this family lives dirt-poor in Brooklyn. And that's it. But from this simple premise grows a tender, heartbreaking story. It's the only book that fills me with sadness just by thinking about it. But the book isn't all about the saddness. Francie grows, the family has fun, there are tender moments between parents and children. There is so much to love about this book and so much to learn about how we grow-always reaching above our station. I highly recommend this book.
Click Here to Download the Book