Customer Reviews for

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Average Rating 4.5
( 845 )
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(598)

4 Star

(145)

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(53)

2 Star

(23)

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(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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  • 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 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2011

    Classical read.

    The story of a young girl growing up in the slums of Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn, New York during economic hardships is an amazing read as you learn about what the family has to do to make it by poverty, the loss of loved ones, and ultimatly learn how strong the will of the poor really is. This is an extrordinary clasical novel that will make you think twice about the poor.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2012

    Much Better Than Expected

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, was a tale of a girl's life, growing up in Brooklyn from 1902 to 1918. This book was very interesting with different stories all collaborated together. The different points of view made the book unique from any other book. And with this being a book that I had to read for school, I was dreading it. I was glad to know that there are some books that you read in school that aren't terrible.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Challenging but good

    Even though im a.really good reader i found it a bit challenging (im still in 7th grade) as much as i loved this i wouodnt recomend this.for young readers.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Discussion Book

    I recently read this book for a book discussion. It took me a long time to read, but it was well worth it. The book created a great discussion!
    There are many themes to discuss. Not to mention, the discussion of the characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    In the Middle

    What I found interesting about this book is that while it is beautifully written, it lacks a plot. There is no drama. It is not a page-turner or full of suspense. You can put the book down for a couple of days and get right back into it. The book is a beautifully written portrait of Brooklyn, NY in the Early 1900's.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2015

    A story for all ages

    Great story Makes you realize how hard work and love shape a child even through the most trying of circumstances

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  • Posted December 6, 2014

    Highly recommend

    This is a classic I read as a youth, but found it a still a wonderful read. The protagonist survives adversity and comes to thrive. A story as true today as in 1912.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Madi

    Walks in

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    Good Book

    A little slow in the beginning but a good book after the start. I laughed and cried.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    Charming

    Nostalgia with charm. Read it to your children and grandchildren. This little book take you back to a time now gone, and introduces those not familiar with the big city to a place they can only visit in books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    Liked!

    Some books just transcend time...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013

    Nice

    As a native of NYC i must say this really brings tears to my eyes

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  • Posted May 1, 2013

    Life has a lot of experiences. Francie Nolan, only a small child

    Life has a lot of experiences. Francie Nolan, only a small child, goes through these experiences every single day. It did not take long for her to understand the reality and poverty that her family lived in. She provided for her family all that she possibly could. This heart touching story goes through the life of an innocent girl who has done nothing but help everyone around her. Her whole family struggles just to get the bare necessities for survival. One day they have their three meals a day and the next only a slice of bread and a cup of coffee on the table for the entire day.
    Francie sees the world in a different perspective. She sees good in all people. Though she is put second by her own mother, she still pushed through with her head held high. She loved going to school and reading. She looked at those things as an escape from her hard life. She expressed her feelings through writing and created her own perfect world in stories.
    Then, something tragic hit her family. From that point on, Francie was never the same. She let high school go. She ended up going from job to job to support her mother, her brother, and now a baby sister. As determined as she was, she did ruin her education completely. Somehow this girl of 15 manages a job and college classes. Without any schooling higher than middle school, Francie got into newspaper publishing and kept getting raise after raise. She got her family into a middle class living environment and always made sure that there was food on the table.
    She lives and adult life, but inside, she was just a child.
    “Maybe,” thought Francie, “she doesn’t love me as much as she loves Neeley, but she needs me more than she needs him. I guess being needed is almost as good as being loved. Maybe better.”

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2013

    Great classic and quick read.

    Love all the characters.

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  • Posted March 8, 2013

    S happy to find in Nook format

    I first read this when I was 11 years old, and have always had a dog-eared copy in my library. During my last move, my ancient paperback copy fell to pieces and was thrown out. I was devastated. On a whim, I checked B&N to see if it was available in digital format, and there it was. I purchased it immediately and I'm delighted that I will never lose this book again. A timeless classic, deeply emotional and still very relevant even today.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    I have been transformed! Having been born in Brooklyn some 60 years ago and lived there for the first dozen years I was able to relate to this book. I really couldn't put it down. The reminising was fun and yet sometimes sad. What a trip in time for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Wonderful

    Just read it, you won't be sorry

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2013

    Good story

    It took a bit for me to get into this story, but once there, it was a good read

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