A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Author: Betty Smith

IBSN: 0895773287

Publisher: Harper & Brothers

Copyright Date: 1943

Genre: Memoir

Reading Level: 4 th grade

Interest Age: 9 yrs. +

Challenge Issues: n/a

Curriculum Ties: n/a

Information about author: Betty Smith was born on December 15, 1896. She was born in New York to Poor German immigrants. As she got older she got married and decided to attend college. She attended University of Michigan.

Smith wrote a total of four books. The most popular of these books was her first; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. This book was followed by Tomorrow Will Be Better in 1947.  Then came Maggie Now in 1958. Her last book was Joy of the Morning in 1963.

Plot Summary: Johnny and Kate Nolan marry and have Francie and Neely. After a few years of marriage Johnny becomes an alcoholic and Kate supports the family by cleaning homes. Kate becomes pregnant once again and Johnny dies. The Nolans are supported by the Francie and Neely’s after school jobs, but soon they drop out of school to help their mother. The Nolans save enough money for Neely to return to school while Francie continues to work. Soon Neely graduates, Francie enters college and Katie becomes engaged to a wealthy businessman.

Critical Evaluation: I loved this book. As a young first generation Latina, I can relate to the struggles of immigrants.

Reader’s annotation: Can Francie lead her family out of the tough streets of Brooklyn?

Book talk ideas: This book illustrates the hardships of an immigrant. Young Francie faces poverty and the hardships life throws at her. She unofficially becomes the leader of the family by working at a young age. This is ultimately a story about yet another strong women.

Why did you include this book?: Teens enjoy the spirit of overcoming obstacles.

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