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Editorial Reviews

Why You Should Download This Audiobook: Betty Smith's immensely moving novel is essentially a paean to the human spirit—among most uplifting works we can think of. It's one of those stories you delight in giving to a good friend or family member who might be facing difficulty, certain that it could change the way they perceive life or give them strength to overcome a problem. It's also worth mentioning that this novel is a refreshing, plainspoken American work, a welcome change of pace if you've been lately persuing dense or complex works of literature.
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Publisher's Summary

A moving coming-of-age story set in the 1900s, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows the lives of 11-year-old Francie Nolan, her younger brother Neely, and their parents, Irish immigrants who have settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Johnny Nolan is as loving and fanciful as they come, but he is also often drunk and out of work, unable to find his place in the land of opportunity. His wife Katie scrubs floors to put food on the table and clothes on her children's backs, instilling in them the values of being practical and planning ahead. When Johnny dies, leaving Katie pregnant, Francie, smart, pensive and hoping for something better, cannot believe that life can carry on as before. But with her own determination, and that of her mother behind her, Francie is able to move toward the future of her dreams, completing her education and heading off to college, always carrying the beloved Brooklyn of her childhood in her heart.
©1947 Betty Smith (P)2001 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"There's a reason this tale remains beloved after almost 50 years, and it stands with memoirs like Angela's Ashes for its happy-ending triumph over a bad childhood." (AudioFile)
"A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and a true one. It cuts right to the heart of life." (The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Wild Wise Woman on 09-04-11


I won't waste time talking about the worth of this classic story. In my 50+ years on this earth I somehow never read it, dismissing it as "young adult fiction", and I am sorry and shamed now, because it is not that at all. It is one of the finest books I've ever listened to.

HOWEVER, because it was new to me, I was very sorry to hear the introduction (not skippable, because it is not separated from the first chapter) which GAVE AWAY all the key parts of the story at the end of its schmoozy praise of the novel. Really, really disappointed to have a spoiler like that for such a great book - it should have been featured AFTER the story. The narrator is quite good and I love her way with accents, but she should learn that "suite" is pronounced "sweet" and not "suit". Also disturbing is the weird incidental jazz music, not at all indicative of 1911 when the story begins, which breaks startlingly, alarmingly between chapters. It's out of character for the story and jarring to the ear.

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115 of 119 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Nancy on 09-06-05

Leaves you wondering what happened next -

Many of our own lives can relate with the author as she tells a story of a life so similar to the lives we live in today's world ~ It had romance, excitement, childhood fantasies, family tolerance, sibling protection and teasing, fears of change, tears of joy and sadness. I wish it never ended.

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35 of 36 people found this review helpful

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