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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
By Betty Smith

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
By Betty Smith
Foreword by Anna Quindlen
Large Print Edition
Harper Large Print, 1947
An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 0-06-074594-0
Genre: Fiction

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - April 11, 2005

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a heartwarming and memorable coming-of-age story about Francie Nolan. Growing up in Williamsburg in those idealistic years just before the start of World War One. The story begins in 1912, and at that time, Williamsburg was slum area of Brooklyn, New York. It was also the home of our heroine, the eleven-year-old Francie. This is a quiet story about Francie's everyday life, and the events and people that she encounters as she goes shopping for soup bones, plays with her friends, attends school, deals with the poverty that she is forced to live in, and simply goes about the process of growing up.

This is a stark novel that clearly delineates the realities of growing up in poverty, and how unfairly the poor are often treated. From the beginning, the odds are stacked against Francie. She is forced to leave school early, her brother is the acknowledged favorite of the family, and she is looked down by those around her for being the poor daughter of immigrant parents. Yet, she has a strong will and a realistic understanding of the obstacles that stand in her way, and a fierce determination and courage to better her own life. Francie must endure much pain during her formative years, but she is always seeking to make the most of what she has, which makes her triumphs all the more sweet.

Written by Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was first published in 1943, and immediately garnered a large audience. This is a story that has, over the years, continued to intrigued readers of all ages. Smith's depiction of slum life is astute and graphic, as are her descriptions of the various ethnic groups - and ethic animosities - that Francie encounters, including Jews and Irish residents of the area. This new, large print edition of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn includes a compelling foreword by Anna Quindlen. This is a gritty, moving novel that has a well-won reputation as a classic work of modern literature, and it is sure to fascinate readers of all ages, for years to come.

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