Customer Reviews for

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Average Rating 4.5
( 837 )
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5 Star

(595)

4 Star

(142)

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(51)

2 Star

(23)

1 Star

(26)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

62 out of 69 people found this review helpful.

Amazing Story

Francie and all of the Nolans are amazing characters. Each and every one of us today could stand to learn a few lessons from them on what it means to live and survive. Francie is a captivating character from the moment she is introduced. As her audience, you feel her sh...
Francie and all of the Nolans are amazing characters. Each and every one of us today could stand to learn a few lessons from them on what it means to live and survive. Francie is a captivating character from the moment she is introduced. As her audience, you feel her shame, her pain, her innocence, and her joys as she struggles to maneuver her way through life in early twentieth century Brooklyn.

The Nolans are not the only vibrant characters. The Rommely sisters and mother are a treat unto themselves. Each one of them are strong, resilient, and knowledgeable. Again, the lessons they teach on how to live life through the good times and especially the bad, and how to stand together as a family are still valid today.

The novel is set during the early twentieth century, which means that a large majority of the backdrop is quite antiquated. The existence of horse-drawn carriages, words they use, prices of food - as a lover of history, I found these examples charming and fascinating. For me, the lessons about what life was like back then struck home more than any lecture or narrative by an elderly relative. Ms. Smith presents the background with an air of innocence that I'm not certain exists anymore.

I adored this novel. To me, it was extremely calming and uplifting; as one person stated, it was food for my soul. I felt peaceful and rested every time I opened the book, as if for that brief period, my body could completely relax and let itself go. The pictures Ms. Smith paints with words are crystal clear, while the words she uses are melodious. Ms. Smith has created a wonderful example for young girls everywhere on what it means to be strong and never giving up. At so many points in the novel, any one of the Nolans or Rommely sisters could have given up and let life pass them, but they choose to continue to fight the good fight and live the best way they can. Given the economic turmoil in which we currently live, it may be time to revisit these ideas.

posted by jmchshannon on May 10, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Why am I reading this?

This book is well, boring. The vast majority of this book literally put me to sleep. The only reason that I gave this book a rating higher than one star is that the ending is really good. All of the ratings on this website and many others say that this is a great story ...
This book is well, boring. The vast majority of this book literally put me to sleep. The only reason that I gave this book a rating higher than one star is that the ending is really good. All of the ratings on this website and many others say that this is a great story (shoot, the average rating is five stars at this site), so maybe my expectations were too high. I don't know if it's just the genre I dislike, or the fact that this book is probably way deeper than I should be reading, but I could not stand reading this book. Also, it¿s kind of hard for me as a fifteen year-old who has never really had to live in poverty to relate to the characters, especially considering my extended family all died, and this story takes place almost a hundred years ago (I think). I wouldn¿t recommend this book to anybody of my age group, simply because we cannot relate. None of us has ever collected trash to trade in to get money for candy. My aunt (when she was alive) never chased after men, or had ten miscarriages. Maybe this book is just too deep for me to comprehend, but I found it boring and uneventful.

posted by Anonymous on October 31, 2005

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Page 1 of 42
  • Posted May 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Amazing Story

    Francie and all of the Nolans are amazing characters. Each and every one of us today could stand to learn a few lessons from them on what it means to live and survive. Francie is a captivating character from the moment she is introduced. As her audience, you feel her shame, her pain, her innocence, and her joys as she struggles to maneuver her way through life in early twentieth century Brooklyn.

    The Nolans are not the only vibrant characters. The Rommely sisters and mother are a treat unto themselves. Each one of them are strong, resilient, and knowledgeable. Again, the lessons they teach on how to live life through the good times and especially the bad, and how to stand together as a family are still valid today.

    The novel is set during the early twentieth century, which means that a large majority of the backdrop is quite antiquated. The existence of horse-drawn carriages, words they use, prices of food - as a lover of history, I found these examples charming and fascinating. For me, the lessons about what life was like back then struck home more than any lecture or narrative by an elderly relative. Ms. Smith presents the background with an air of innocence that I'm not certain exists anymore.

    I adored this novel. To me, it was extremely calming and uplifting; as one person stated, it was food for my soul. I felt peaceful and rested every time I opened the book, as if for that brief period, my body could completely relax and let itself go. The pictures Ms. Smith paints with words are crystal clear, while the words she uses are melodious. Ms. Smith has created a wonderful example for young girls everywhere on what it means to be strong and never giving up. At so many points in the novel, any one of the Nolans or Rommely sisters could have given up and let life pass them, but they choose to continue to fight the good fight and live the best way they can. Given the economic turmoil in which we currently live, it may be time to revisit these ideas.

    62 out of 69 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2009

    I Honestly Love This Book

    My mom bought this book just so we could have it and I don't think she thought I would read it until I was older. True, it took me a while and I did take breaks from it, but I read the whole thing and I loved it! It was a touching story and I think it was truly my favorite book because it was funny and sad and told a story that covered many years.

    30 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 29, 2010

    GREAT BOOK TIMELESS STORY

    I am 44 years old and have read this book for the first time. Its a timeless classic. The issues of the day in the book are still happening today. It had me think about the human condition; prejudices, fears, love, hope, desire and family ties. I loved it and highly suggest it for reading. Its a page turner.

    I wish that tvs would cease to exist and that books like this could be what we Americans were exposed to. The issues that this family faced as immigrants and first generation Americans are the same issues that my family deals with, and that today's immigrants face. I think this book teaches compassion and understanding. Loved it!

    24 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2002

    Oh my god!!!!!!!!

    I needed to read this book, A tree Grows in brooklyn for my 6th grade school.(Lab) At first i looked at it and said 'al man, do i have to read this book?. it's boring!!' But then i started reading from the first page to the last. I just couldnt believe that this book was so so so facinated. I justed loved it. You should read it. You will love A tree grows in brooklyn. Garenteed!!.

    23 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    Still Awesome!

    I read this book about almost 50 years ago. It was my favorite for many years. I still read it again every now and then. Don't miss reading this warm profound book. A great read for young adult to oldies like me.

    17 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2011

    Lyrical beautiful writing

    This books follows the life of an immigrant girl in Brooklyn during the early 1900's. I don't usually read coming-of-age books but this one really spoke to me. I read it as part of an online book club and truly felt it is best read as an adult even though I first heard about it as a teenager. This book is based on the author's life and gives heartfelt descriptions of her neighborhood, family relationships, and her struggle for an education. The events that shape her life are at various times humorous, poignant, and uplifting.

    17 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    one of the best coming of age novels out there

    i am 15 and i had to read this book for my english class, i really enjoyed this book. it is now one of my favortites. i would definitely recommend this book to people of all ages. even though the whole novel was a bit too wordy, i would still recommend it. i think this book has valuable concepts of sacrifice,and family unity among other great concepts. This is a story in which i can relate to, this is a story about struggles and hardships.

    13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2012

    Beautiful coming of age story.

    I loved this story. Francie grows up in Brooklyn during the early 1900s. She is lonely, plain and poor but she lives and learns each day and becomes a strong and independent woman. Surrounding Francie are a slew of colorful people and relatives that round out the story and give you a real picture of how people lived during that time. Not to be missed.

    11 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    Great Historical Insight

    My Grandmother grew up in the time period in which this book takes place. I was charmed by this book because the language used is the same that my beloved Grandmother uses. The story is beautifully and yet heartbreakingly written. It's about thriving in your environment despite adverse circumstances. I would recommend this book to anyone.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    One of my all-time favorites!

    This wonderful book has been a favorite of mine for decades (I am 53 years old)! Though it takes place at the beginning of the last century, the characters are timeless. It's a beautiful story of growing up. Please, please take a chance on this book. You will NOT be sorry that you did.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2012

    Highly Recommend!

    This is one of the first novels I ever read. It has stayed with me for many years as a favorite of all the books I've read. I recently purchased it on my Nook Color so I can read it again and again. An amazing story of lifes difficulties during the depression.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    A true masterpiece

    It may be the truest fiction I've ever read.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 24, 2011

    Recommend for young or old

    I reread this wonderful story after many years (I was a teenager then.) I loved it as a young girl and even more, or differently, now as an adult. The author has much to say about community--how it supports and destroy; poverty--how grinding it really is; love--use your head and your heart; and family--make no assumptions (Dad is an alcholic and he is not abusive and he is loving and much loved). Her women are wonderful and very real. A "highly recommend" for any age. Girls are going to love and remember it(and probably reread it 30 years later).

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 23, 2011

    A Must Read

    I loved this book, and would highly recommend it. However, I am 81 years old so I could thouroghly relate to this history. I understand it was first written by the author as an autobiography, and she had to change it to a novel to have it printed.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2011

    A Must Read for Everyone

    I love this book so much I am having a copy placed in my coffin when I am buried. I first read this book in 4th grade. I kept returning it to the library and taking it out again. I was so excited to have my own copy when my dad bought it for me not soon after all the "withdrawals/returns." I have a 6th edition copy from 1943 complete with dust jacket intact and Mylar covering it. Anyhow, let's get to the review! Francie is a little girl living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the 1900s. She has a brother Neeley and her parents work hard to keep them fed and living in an tenement apartment. I really don't know where to begin because I don't want to give anything away - I'll just say you have to read it for yourself. I can't say enough about this book - Betty Smith wrote only four books and a number of plays before passing away in the 1970s. I wish she had written more. They are all fantastic. Treat yourself and pick up "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" - if you don't care for it, I'll be really surprised. (Of course, everyone has their own opinion!) ENJOY!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    An amazing read!

    This book completely ruined me! I loved it so much that after finishing it I had trouble finding another book to read because my standards were set so high as a result. It is hard to read slowly but I would recommend trying so that you really get a good understanding of the story and its characters.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Read this at a young age

    I read this book when I was twelve years old and it was recommended by my teacher. I have to admit the beginning is very slow but once you get past that, there is an amazing book just waiting for you. I love how the author showed different parts of Francie's life and how she saw things. I fell in love with the parts when Francie would wait for her father and he would come home drunk and singing. This book is and will ways be my favorite book of all time.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 31, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Nothing short of classic

    I read this book under the recommendation of my eighth grade teacher, and fell in love with all of its characters and the style of writing for this time period. I have found each of Betty Smith's works: Joy in the Morning, Tomorrow Will Be Better, and Maggie-Now (the former two are unfortunately out-of-print), are on par with her most well-known classic, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Ever since my first encounter with Smith, I have spent much of my time scouring antique shops for the original copies of the out-of-print books, as well as other novels published in the same time period and have found the same mesmerizng writing style to ring true for other classic works stemming from this time period. This book represents the most genuine coming-of-age stories ever written, with characters that will riddle your heart with both tears and laughter.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Relevant for today and for life

    I finally got to reading this and was very glad I did. I'm afraid I wouldn't have been able to appreciate it when I was younger. Like all classics, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn contains wisdom that is relevant still today.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Moving

    This book really stirs the soul and captures the heart of so many true American families.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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