I need to be reminded periodically of what a masterful writer s attention to detail, character portrayal, and replication of human kindnesses and cruelties accomplishes Betty Smith s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an excellent example This book is about poor people in Brooklyn living against the odds before and during World War I It is especially about strong women the Rommely women Mary, the grandmother Mary s three daughters Sissy, Katie, and Evy and most particularly granddaughter Francie all made out of thin invisible steel It is also about their husbands and neighbors, shopkeepers and school children, teachers and co workers It is a compelling, detailed slice of life as the author must have experienced it.Francie Nolan, the book s main character, born in 1902, is eleven in the novel s first chapter Living in poverty in Brooklyn with her brother Neeley a year younger than she , her truthful, resolute, practical mother Katie, and her empathetic, unrealistic, drunkard father Johnny, she exhibits already what Katie s uneducated but wise mother Mary Rommely had advised Katie about raising her two children The child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination It is necessary that she believe Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination Francie has imagination When Katie pointed out to her mother that the child, growing up, would find out things for herself, her mother responded, It is a good thing to learn the truth one s self To first believe with all your heart, and then not to believe fattens the emotions and makes them to stretch When as a woman life and people disappoint her, she will have had practice in disappointment and it will not come so hard Do not forget that suffering is good, too It makes a person rich in character Early on, Francie, shunned by girls her own age, fantasizes about the lives of people she observes from the fire escape landing outside her window, lives in the stories of the library books she reads, and plays games with imaginary friends She loves her imperfect father deeply Over the course of five years she experiences nastiness, cruelty, grieves, yet perseveres At the book s end she is rich in character.These scenes in particular moved me.When Francie had been seven and Neeley six, Katie had sent them to the nearby public health center to be vaccinated Katie had needed to work that day and Johnny had been at the waiters union hall hoping to be emplouyed that night Told by older boys that his arm would be cut off at the health center, Neeley had been terrified To distract him before leaving for the center, Francie had taken him out into the yard to make mud pies They had left for the center just before they were scheduled to report, their arms covered with mud Filth, filth, filth, from morning to night I know they re poor but they could wash Water is free and soap is cheap, the doctor had said to the nurse assisting him The doctor had then speculated how that kind of people could survive that it would be a better world if they were all sterilized and couldn t breed any After she had received her vaccination, Francie, terribly hurt, had fired back My brother is next His arm is just as dirty as mine so don t be surprised And you don t have to tell him You told me Besides, it won t do no good He s a boy and he don t care if he is dirty Francie s teacher at the neighborhood school was also scornful of the poor The spinster principal was nasty and brutal Francie, turned nine, had her father fake their address to permit her to transfer to a better school That November her new class participated in a Thanksgiving Day ceremony Four chosen girls held symbols of the Thanksgiving feast One symbol was a saucer sized pumpkin pie The teacher threw away the other symbols after the ceremony but not the pie, offering it to anyone who wanted to take it home Thirty mouths watered thirty hands itched to go up into the air, but no one moved All were too proud to accept charitable food When the teacher was about to throw away the pie, Francie raised her hand She explained she wanted to give the pie to a very poor family The following Monday the teacher asked Francie about how the family had enjoyed the pie Francie expanded on her lie by saying that there were twin girls in the family, they had not eaten for three days, and a doctor had said that they would have died but for the pie Caught in her lie, Francie confessed She pleaded not to be punished The teacher answered, I ll not punish you for having an imagination She explained the difference between a lie and a story The incident inspired Francie to channel her tendency to exaggerate events into writing stories.A year later Francie told a whopping lie She and Neeley attended a Christmas celebration conducted for the poor of all faiths by a Protestant organization At the end of the celebration an exquisitely dressed, lovely girl named Mary came on stage carrying a foot high beautiful doll The woman that had accompanied the little girl announced, Mary wants to give the doll to some poor little girl in the audience who is named Mary Is there any poor little girl in the audience named Mary Struck dumb by the adjective poor, no Mary spoke up But at the last moment Francie did As she walked back up the aisle carrying the doll, the girls leaned towards her and whispered hissingly, Beggar, beggar, beggar They were as poor as she but they had something she lacked pride Francie was extremely proud of her seventh grade composition printed in the school magazine at the close of the school year Eager to meet her father in the street to show him the published composition, she saw a girl named Joanna come out of her flat pushing a baby carriage Joanna, who was seventeen, wasn t married Several housewives on the sidewalk gasped as Joanna strolled past them Katie and Johnny had talked about Joanna At the end of their conversation Katie had said to Francie, Let Joanna be a lesson to you Seeing her, Francie wondered how Joanna was a lesson She was friendly She wanted everybody else to be friendly She smiled at the ladies on the street They frowned She smiled at nearby children Some of them smiled back Francie, believing she probably wasn t supposed to, did not smile back Joanna continued to walk up and down the sidewalk The ladies became outraged One woman eventually spoke Aren t you ashamed of yourself Joanna answered back Get off the street, you whore, the woman demanded A verbal fight ensured The women began to throw stones One struck the baby on the forehead Joanna carried the baby into her flat, leaving the carriage on the sidewalk The women disappeared Little boys began to play with the carriage Francie wheeled the carriage back to the front door of Joanna s flat She placed her story on the carriage cushion as recompense for not having smiled She decided later that the lesson she had learned was that she hated women She feared them for their devious ways, she mistrusted their instincts She began to hate them for this disloyalty and their cruelty to each other Francie s father died when she was fourteen Thereafter, instead of writing about the beauty of birds and trees she wrote four little stories about Johnny to show that despite his shortcomings he had been a good father and kindly man Her new English teacher marked her compositions C, not what Francie was accustomed to, A Afterward, she and Francie had a private conversation The teacher wanted Francie to write about beauty and truth as she had before Poverty, starvation and drunkenness are ugly subjects Drunkards belong in jail, not in stories And poverty There is no excuse for that There s enough work for all who want it People are poor because they re too lazy to work There s nothing beautiful about laziness Now that we ve talked things out, I m sure you ll stop writing these sordid little stories She advised Francie to burn her four compositions in her stove when she got home Instead, Francie burned all her A compositions She told herself, I never saw a poplar and I read somewhere about the sky arching and I never saw those flowers except in a seed catalogue I got A s because I was a good liar I am burning ugliness I am burning ugliness Two years later Francie met a twenty one year old soldier about to be shipped off to the war in Europe They spent an evening together and kissed They met the next evening and the soldier asked Francie to have sex with him and to marry him if he came back from the war They did not engage in sex but she accepted his proposal He went back home to Pennsylvania the next day to see his mother before being shipped out Several days later Francie received a letter from the soldier s mother informing her that the woman s son had married his fianc e Francie needed her mother to tell her hard truths.Told what had happened, having read the letter, Katie recognized she could no longer stand between her children and heartache Say something, demanded Francie What can I say Say that I m young that I ll get over it Go ahead and say it Go ahead and lie, Francie said bitterly I know that s what people say you ll get over it I d say it, too But I know it s not true Every time you fall in love it will be because something in the man reminds you of him Mother, he asked me to be with him for the night Should I have gone Don t make up a lie, Mother Tell me the truth There are two truths, said Katie finally As a mother, I say it would have been a terrible thing for a girl to sleep with a stranger Your whole life might have been ruined But as a woman she hesitated I will tell you It would have been a very beautiful thing Because there is only once that you love that way A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is such a bittersweet, beautiful book Betty Smith assures us that amid the misery and ugliness of poverty honest, empathetic people rich in character do exist We need to know that We need to retain hope for the human race. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is an American classic The author writes about growing up poor in Brooklyn at the turn of the 20th century The tree is a both real and a metaphor for the challenges life gave the family Yet, had they not had those challenges, would they be who they are by the end of the story I highly recommend reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn yearly. A perennial favorite I first read this book about a young girl when I was in elementary school Written in 1943 and set in the early 1900s this story is an unique coming of age novel.The book explores the life of eleven year old Francie Nolan and the rest of her Irish American Family The book gives readers a unique glimpse into the hardscrabble lives of the families living in the tenements Brooklyn circa 1919 Through Francie and her younger brother Neely, the reader experiences how the wonderment of childhood survives even the most stark circumstances Francie adores her father Johnnie who struggles with alcoholism He is either unable to or unwilling to keep gainful employment Katie, Francie s mother, is a very practical and hardworking woman She holds the Nolan family together with her determination and tenacity Her only dream in life is for Francie and Neely to go college How will tradedy and the hard realities of life affect the Nolan family I could not put A Tree Grows in Brooklyn down when I first read it as a child It still has the same effect on me. The name of this novel has always been in my consciousness I think my dad must have read it when I was young I m so glad I finally got round to reading it myself I found the characters to be real, flawed and likeable Although the family know dreadful poverty, they are rich in love, imagination and resourcefulness I m going to miss them. I m calling this one done, as my goal here was to re read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn not Maggie Now Re reading this book with a critical eye now it doesn t thrill me as much as it once did, but I think it will always be a favorite of mine. I love historical biographies, and this is a unique window into a transitional time in American history and the evolutions of a city It is primarily though, about one girl and her family in Brooklyn, as they brave poverty, alcoholism and everyday trials All the while her perspective is positive and prosaic Very enjoyable. I have probably read this book 5 times and never tire of it A wonderful book to give a preteen or teen grandchild. There are reasons why books are considered classics This is one of them Popular Book, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn Maggie Now Author Betty Smith This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book A Tree Grows In Brooklyn Maggie Now , Essay By Betty Smith Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For Please Read And Make A Refission For You This was an interesting book and I really liked the authors writing style The story was very long for me though Depending on when you pick up a book to read, you might have a lot of time and drink up every word or you might be in a skimming mood because you want to be able to participate in the conversation at bookclub I am guilty of skimming, and I really felt this book was demanding respect and wanted me to take in every word Unfortunately I was in a time crunch.
See this thread for information. Betty Smith AKA Sophina Elisabeth Wehner Born December 15, 1896 Died January 17, 1972Born in Brooklyn, New York to German immigrants, she grew up poor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn These experiences served as the framework to her first novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 1943.After marrying George H E Smith, a fellow Brooklynite, she moved with him to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he pursued a law degree at the University of Michigan At this time, she gave birth to two girls and waited until they were in school so she could complete her higher education Although Smith had not finished high school, the university allowed her to enroll in classes There she honed her skills in journalism, literature, writing, and drama, winning a prestigious Hopwood Award She was a student in the classes of Professor Kenneth Thorpe Rowe.In 1938 she divorced her husband and moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina There she married Joseph Jones in 1943, the same year in which A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was published She teamed with George Abbott to write the book for the 1951 musical adaptation of the same name Throughout her life, Smith worked as a dramatist, receiving many awards and fellowships including the Rockefeller Fellowship and the Dramatists Guild Fellowship for her work in drama Her other novels include Tomorrow Will Be Better 1947 , Maggie Now 1958 and Joy in the Morning 1963.
- 733 pages
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn & Maggie-Now
- Betty Smith
- 02 May 2019 Betty Smith