Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt who gives her love too freely (to men), and a brother who... read more
"A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" is a heartfelt story about Francie Nolan as she grows up in poverty at the turn-of-the-century. She is academically blessed and loves to write. The reader's heart will ache with her when seeing the challenges she faces and the lack of opportunity families at her... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
"A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" is a heartfelt story about Francie Nolan as she grows up in poverty at the turn-of-the-century. She is academically blessed and loves to write. The reader's heart will ache with her when seeing the challenges she faces and the lack of opportunity families at her income level are given. Through motivation and life lessons Francie overcomes her circumstances, survives struggles, and excels at her talents. Author Betty Smith is to thank for this charming and at times heart wrenching book.
“Dear God," she prayed, "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere - be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”
“It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly...survives without sun, water, and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it.”
“They learned no compassion from their own anguish. Thus their suffering was wasted.”
“It showed her that there were other worlds beside the world she had been born into and that these other worlds were not unattainable.”
“Every time you fall in love it will be because something in the man reminds you of him.”
“A tree had grown from the stump…the fir tree the Nolans had cherished with waterings and maunurings had long since sickened and died. But this tree in the yard––this tree that men chopped down…this tree that they built a bonfire around, trying to burn up its stump––this tree lived! It lived! And nothing could destroy it.”
“Francie stood on tiptoe and stretched her arms wide. "Oh, I want to hold it all!" she cried. "I want to hold the way the night is - cold without wind. And the way the stars are so near and shiny. I want to hold all of it tight until it hollers out, 'Let me go! Let me go!'"”
“"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time."”
““People always think that happiness is a faraway thing … something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up.””
“Most women had the one thing in common: they had great pain when they gave birth to their children. This should make a bond that held them all together; it should make them love and protect each other against the man-world. But it was not so. It seemed like their great birth pains shrank their hearts and their souls. They stuck together for only one thing: to trample on some other woman...whether it was by throwing stones or by mean gossip. It was the only kind of loyalty they seemed to have.”Francie
“"If what Granma Mary Rommely said is true, then it must be that no one ever dies, really. Papa is gone, but he's still here in many ways. He's here in Neeley, who looks just like him, and in Mama who knew him so long. He's here in his mother who began him and who is still living. Maybe I will have a boy someday who looks like Papa and has all of Papa's good without the drinking. And that boy will have a boy. And that boy will have a boy. It might be there is no real death."”Francie
“"How do I look, Prima Donna?"”Neely
“The only way I know what is right and wrong is the way I feel about things. If I feel bad, it's wrong, if I feel good, it's right.”
“we're too much alike to understand each other because we don't even understand our own selves”Francie about her and her mother
This book is about a girl growing up in Brooklyn, so I would recommend this to teenagers in middle school or higher, who have grown up a little themselves. Younger readers (elementary school) would not appreciate this book nearly as much. There are references to rape and sex.
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