Monday 7 May 2018

Smith, Betty "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"

Smith, Betty "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" - 1943

Many of my friends have told me about this book and it has been on my wishlist for ages. I finally made it. And I am glad I did. A young girl growing up in poverty loves reading. That might have been my story though we were never as poor as the Nolan family. Probably because my father didn't drink and brought the money home he earned through his regular job. But I can totally relate to Francie. How she came to love books and how they became her only friends sometimes. Books are always there for you.

I could also understand Francie's mother Katie, how she tried to save some pennies in order to get food onto the table. It must have been so hard for her.

Francie lived a hundred years ago but her message lives on and is still as valid now as it was back then. With an education, we can get out of the deepest holes.

This book is well written, from the point of view of a girl growing up but with a very adult understanding. It makes you think about life and its meaning.

In any case, I could relate to Francie so well that I just had to love this book. I would have loved to read this when I was young.

From the back cover:

"A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one. It cuts right to the heart of life ... If you miss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you will deny yourself a rich experience...  It is a poignant and deeply understanding story of childhood and family relationships. The Nolans lived in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn from 1902 until 1919... Their daughter Francie and their son Neely knew more than their fair share of the privations and sufferings that are the lot of a great city's poor. Primarily this is Francie's book. She is a superb feat of characterization, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child. And Francie's growing up and beginnings of wisdom are the substance of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."


  1. I read this one many years ago and remember liking it very much. We moved a lot when I was growing up and the first thing I did each time we moved was get a library card, we couldn't afford to buy books.

    1. As I mentioned, most of my American friends have read this, therefore I really wanted to read it, as well. And I'm glad I did, it's a beautiful story.

      We didn't move and therefore, I probably read all the books our small village library had available. Can't remember this being there.

      I'm glad you commented, I was getting worried you might not be well enough to get on the computer.

      Wishing you all the best,

  2. So glad you read this! I have read it many times over the years. It struck me hard when you said the story took place over a hundred years ago! But it did. At least we still have libraries where even the poor can find books.

    1. I know, I feel the same when these kind of dates come up. When someone mentions a song and it is fifty years old and I still remember when it came out and that sort of thing. It's amazing how time flies.

      And I do agree that it is great we still have libraries. I hope we will always have them and that many people will take advantage of that.

  3. I read this book as a girl and loved it. I read it again a few years ago and loved it on a whole different level. Just after I finished the book recently, I visited the part of Brooklyn where the story is set. I could imagine Francie wandering the streets. I also learned how my dad and his cousins collected junk for pocket change.

    1. I am sure I would have loved to read this as a girl and I am sad I can't turn back time and read all those books at that age when I certainly would have enjoyed it differently. But that's that and I am happy that I can read them. now.

      Funnily enough, shortly after I read this book, my son visited New York and also saw Brooklyn. I would have like to accompany him on that walk.