A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | review by @SheilaRCraigA Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith | review by @SheilaRCraig by Betty Smith

Book club’s pick for August, and I am so glad it was – I’d have never been motivated to read it otherwise, and I certainly wouldn’t have stuck with it long enough to fall in love with the story.

Because fall in love with it I did. I hate to gush over it too much, because often I think if my expectations are too high it’s all but impossible for a book to live up to them. If I’d started this thinking “POTENTIAL FAVORITE BOOK AHEAD!” would I have been as able to fall in love with the story and characters? And if I gush, am I setting someone else up to be disappointed?

Some aspects of it remind me a bit of Anne of Green GablesAnne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, as a coming-of-age story about a girl who finds the beauty in the ugliness that often surrounds her. However, this one is not as fitting for younger readers as Anne can be, so I wouldn’t hand it over to younger readers without being aware of the content and their capacity to emotionally handle it.

Smith is able to bring to life Brooklyn in the early 1900s, and the poverty and grim realities of life there in a way that still kept alive hope in a better future. There are some awful events related, but it never feels grim or depressing. You feel the sorrows of the Nolan family (and there are plenty of sorrows), but also the joy they experience.

My only real complaint with it is that when it ends, I’m not ready to say goodbye to Francie.

Publisher’s Description:
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.

Book Details

Title: A Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith | review by @SheilaRCraig
Author: Betty Smith
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 5 Stars

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

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  1. This one is totally a favorite from my childhood. Though there are definitely some subtle things that I missed when I read as a child that I caught when I read it as an adult.

  2. I just read this for the first time, finished about a month ago. It is now on my all-time favorites list. You’re right, although there are some terrible things that Francie and her family has to deal with, the book never becomes too heavy, there is always hope and love. I really want my 15 year old daughter to read it, but I’m going to wait a while before giving it to her because of some of the situations. I read that the story is very autobiographical.

  3. This book is one of my all time favorites. I first read it as a 12 year old and immediately fell in love, like Frances I too am a dreamer with a heart full of hope. I too was not ready to say goodbye.

  4. I found a copy of this on our shelves growing up and my mom told me that I would not like it. So to be completely contrary I fell in love with it! I read it again every few years.

    I found it to be a nice contrast to my other obsession of reading the Little House books. One from a country girl and one from a city girl.


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