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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | Betty Smith
The American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century.This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
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BarbaraJean
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A super belated review—I read this thanks to @CoffeeNBooks hosting #ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead in January. Although it‘s slow-paced, I loved seeing turn-of-the-century Brooklyn through Francie‘s eyes as she grows up. The writing is gorgeous—beautiful descriptions of small beauties, and threads woven throughout to come full circle in the end. The depth & vividness of the characters made me understand & love them all in their own unique ways.

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Macnjen
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This was a sweet coming of age story about Francie Nolan and Brooklyn at the turn-of-the-century. I didn't know what to expect, and it was a little bit slower than I anticipated, but I had to remember that it was written in the 1940s. I do like the way it was written, and I am glad that I read it but it was a little bit longer then I feel it was necessary.

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greenreads
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A classic coming-of-age story of a young Mary Frances Nolan in 1900s Brooklyn. What makes this a worthy read is its description of a changing world touched by liberation, by conflicting views on the voting rights of women, and a heavy emphasis on the importance of education. Though it has plenty of conflict and its different types, this book is not a heavy read and I find it actually relatable even with the difference in our times.

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MatchlessMarie
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I feel like a symptom of reading this book is that I keep finding darker bread to eat. 😜 I know I‘m a few days behind the #ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead but I should finish today. I have enjoyed reading the discussion even if I didn‘t chime in myself.

rubyslippersreads Do you also pour your coffee down the sink? 😂 3w
MatchlessMarie @rubyslippersreads 😆 I don‘t but lately I have been appreciating the smell more than the taste since I‘ve been cutting back on caffeine 🤪 2w
47 likes2 comments
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greenreads

Second book finished. Thank you #24b4Monday and #ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead. This was a classic that has been on my TBR for a long time.

But, I'm not even close to finishing my own selection. 😖, I forgot to carefully track my hours (stopping the clock).

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catiewithac
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Couple of firsts: first time reading this book and first Litsy buddy read! Thank you @CoffeeNBooks for hosting the buddy read!! I don‘t know if I would have been as committed to finishing it without the peer pressure. ATGIB is excellent but not a page-turner. I fell in love with Francie‘s Brooklyn! The details are astounding! The city and the characters are so full of life in this uniquely American tale! 🖤

69 likes3 stack adds
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CoffeeNBooks
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Thanks to all of you who read this with me this month! I enjoyed the discussions each week! #ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead

Chab256 Thanks for hosting! I enjoyed my first buddy read experience and the book! 4w
catiewithac Well, I‘m totally and forever in love with Johnnie Nolan. He stole my heart. 🖤 4w
dariazeoli Thanks for hosting! This was a great book to start the new decade with! 4w
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Hooked_on_books Thanks for hosting! The book ultimately wasn‘t for me, but I definitely made it further in than I would have if I had read it alone. 4w
Scochrane26 Thanks for hosting! @CoffeeNBooks 4w
catiewithac This was my first time reading ATGIB and my first Litsy buddy read! Thanks for making this such a great experience! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4w
mrp27 Thanks for hosting, it finally got me to read my copy that has been languishing on my shelf for years. It's a five star read for me and a new addition to my favorite list. 4w
OriginalCyn620 Thanks for hosting @CoffeeNBooks! I liked the book and am glad to have another American classic under my belt! 4w
Readswithcoffee Thanks for hosting. 4w
greenreads Thank you for hosting! I mostly lurked, though. 3w
rubyslippersreads Thanks for hosting, @CoffeeNBooks ! I loved revisiting an old friend. 😊 And I‘d still recommend the 1945 movie; one of the interesting things is that James Dunn, who played Johnny, overcame his own alcoholism long enough to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. And Peggy Ann Garner is wonderful as Francie. 3w
rubyslippersreads Here‘s the link to the movie: https://youtu.be/p8F9VNkXbqA 2w
CoffeeNBooks @rubyslippersreads Thank you for this! Also, I see that we have the same birthday!! 2w
51 likes1 stack add13 comments
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CoffeeNBooks
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Scochrane26 I really liked this book. Francie & her family become your friends. I wanted Francie to get over the “first love”, hopefully she did & was able to experience the world & her options. 4w
Chab256 @Scochrane26 Each time I picked it up to read, it felt like I was visiting an old friend... 4w
catiewithac I liked the commentary of how society was changing. The war, electricity, automobiles, women‘s suffrage...it was an exciting time. The moment Francie set her memory of the start of the war was so powerful. It‘s like Proust but also not. 4w
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dariazeoli I agree, Francie felt like a friend after reading about her over so many years. It was nice to see her on her way to new beginnings. 4w
Daisey I‘m so glad I finally made time to read this. I loved the description and the discussion. Thanks again, @CoffeeNBooks! 4w
mrp27 I'm not a Brooklyn girl but I've spent the better half of my life in Brooklyn with family and I loved how she explains that Brooklyn is not just a place but a feeling, so true. There's no other place in the world like it and it's hard describing it to people who haven't experienced it. 4w
OriginalCyn620 I‘m glad I finally read this and agree that reading about Francie and her formative years was like spending time with a friend. 4w
rubyslippersreads I‘m so happy that so many of you loved this book as much as I do. 😊 3w
34 likes8 comments
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CoffeeNBooks
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Scochrane26 I like that he waited for her, they both seemed to know early on that the relationship would happen. Glad Katie got to move up in the world. 4w
Chab256 I love that he waited for her all those years and that the family finally got some stability and happiness. 4w
dariazeoli I liked that they got a happy ending, but the marriage seemed so... transactional to me. 4w
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Daisey I liked the two of them together. I understand what @dariazeoli means, but I also think they have both felt a possible connection for a long time so there is more to it. 4w
mrp27 It was foreshadowed at the picnic so I wasn't overly surprised but I feel a twinge of it being a too perfect of an ending for Katie. 4w
OriginalCyn620 I agree with @dariazeoli ... I think there‘s respect there and mutual liking but love didn‘t seem to be a part of it, at least on Katie‘s part. But it‘s nice that Katie and the kids have a better situation. 4w
Readswithcoffee I‘m glad it worked out. Seems like a good situation for both of them. I think it is possible that love will grow over time. 4w
rubyslippersreads I agree with @dariazeoli that it was transactional (though I think McShane truly loves Katie), but it was difficult for women to survive at that time without that type of transaction. And Annie Laurie will have a much easier life than her siblings (if not as much fun. 😊) 3w
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CoffeeNBooks
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Scochrane26 Love it 4w
Chab256 Her determination was amazing and no doubt came in part from her watching her Mother through the years carry on with the same sort of determination. 4w
dariazeoli I think Francie‘s tenacity is impressive. 4w
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Daisey I loved this part. It seemed to make perfect sense as a way for her to continue her studies. 4w
mrp27 Francie has moxie, along with that Rommely steel and I love it. 4w
OriginalCyn620 I loved it! Like the other women in her family, she‘s strong and determined and made her own way. 4w
rubyslippersreads Francie is another strong Rommely woman. 3w
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CoffeeNBooks
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Scochrane26 It was an effective visual & true in the sense that each in the family would eventually go their own way. (edited) 4w
dariazeoli A powerful metaphor on a couple of levels. I guess many families break up that way. 4w
mrp27 Such a true metaphor for the ups and downs of family and life. 4w
OriginalCyn620 It‘s a great comparison and very powerful...it happens in many families. 4w
rubyslippersreads In spite of this, I think the family will stay together more than Francie thinks. 3w
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CoffeeNBooks
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Readswithcoffee It seemed extremely unfair to me. Katie seems to always be able to justify her actions using her own logic. 4w
Scochrane26 I was so upset about this. For some reason, Katie seems to think Francie is more capable of taking care of herself. Her logic that Francie would find a way, which she did. But, at the time, it was unfair. 4w
Chab256 I understood Katie's logic, but I am not sure I would have made the same choice. It was certainly unfair to Francie, but in the end it only made her stronger and heightened a fierce independent spirit in her. 4w
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catiewithac It worked out for Francie. She got a great education at the clippings job AND jumped right to college. Of course, it‘s not fair, but life ain‘t fair. 4w
dariazeoli It seems par for the course with Katie. She‘s so practical and it can be maddening. It‘s not fair to Francie. 4w
Daisey This seemed very unfair to me. I did somewhat understand the logic in Francie finding a way no matter what, but I didn‘t like it. 4w
mrp27 Made me angry and I thought it was so unfair but also typical of Katie. 4w
OriginalCyn620 Was not surprised at all. She didn‘t support Francie throughout the whole book. I‘m just glad it worked out for Francie. 4w
greenreads Unfair. But, it really is true to her feelings. 3w
rubyslippersreads I wouldn‘t have expected Katie to do anything else. In a way she‘s right—Newley wouldn‘t go to school if she didn‘t make him, while Francie would find a way—but it‘s still so hurtful for Francie. 3w
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review
Readswithcoffee
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I liked the audiobook version so much I decide to actually sit down and read this novel. Reading books more than once is a rare occurrence for me. I enjoyed the print version (via Kindle) even more.

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Kdgordon88
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#Weeklyreport ATGIB was a reread and I loved it as much as the first time. The Women of the Copper Country was excellent. I knew a little about this part of history but this story filled in all the blanks and did it with great characters and wonderful writing. 4 🌟. TMOML took me a bit to get into but by the end I was sold. An enjoyable read. 3 1\u002 🌟 #WeeklyForecast Not much happening in DOG but trying to keep up and just a few pages into TAT.

Cinfhen Great week!!! So what are the buddy readers reading next??!?? 4w
38 likes1 comment
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Reviewsbylola
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Pickpick

Thank you to @CoffeeNBooks for organizing #atreegrowsinbrooklynbuddyread. I started late, so I ended up reading it straight through—now I need to go back and see the discussion questions!

I read this one years ago and loved it, but as is typical for me, I remembered NONE of it. So it was a pleasant surprise to read it again. I love coming of age stories and Smith does such a wonderful job of evoking the atmosphere. #classicschallenge2020

Leftcoastzen Such pretty editions! 4w
britt_brooke Ooh, these are pretty! 🤩 4w
Linsy I love these editions!!! I also love Caitlin Moran, but I've never tried her fiction. 3w
Mdargusch Great book! 3w
111 likes1 stack add4 comments
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theladygreer
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Great piece by Kristy Woodson Harvey on her changing relationship to this classic linked from today's #read99women! http://www.greermacallister.com/blog/2020/1/25/read99women-kristy-woodson-harvey

rachelm Great series! 4w
theladygreer @rachelm Glad you're enjoying it! 4w
21 likes2 comments
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CocoReads
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Finished a reread of a book in my Top 5 favorites! Still loved it at almost 50 as much as I did when I was....maybe 10? 11? Somewhere around that age when I read it for the first time.

TheBookHippie I enjoyed the reread as well!!! I read it at 11, 45 and now! So wonderful ! 4w
CocoReads @TheBookHippie it‘s definitely one that I‘ll always love 4w
55 likes2 comments
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paulareadsallthetime
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Pickpick

I enjoyed watching the Nolan family over the years through Francie‘s eyes.

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dariazeoli
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Another case of thinking I‘ve read a book when I haven‘t! I‘m so glad it was on @LapReader ‘s #NewYearWhoDis list and @CoffeeNBooks set up #ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead during the same month!

I love how Brooklyn was as much a living, breathing character as Francie and her family. I related to Francie, who loves the library, grieves her alcoholic father, and tries to understand the changing world around her.

I miss her already.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

LapReader I miss her too. 4w
61 likes1 comment
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Hooked_on_books
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Bailedbailed

Oh dear. How does one bail on a beloved book? This one just wasn‘t for me in the end. Even with the buddy read (thanks @CoffeeNBooks !), I find I just don‘t want to pick it back up after making it halfway. I need some plot, and this book just doesn‘t have any. So, much as #Greta is sliding off the dog bed, I will slide out of this book. #unpopularopinion #dogsofLitsy

Soubhiville I didn‘t care for this book either! I think you might be the only other person I‘ve ever heard say that. Also, Sietje‘s favorite bed method has always been pretty much what Greta is doing: back half on the bed, front half on the floor. Weird. 4w
Hooked_on_books @Soubhiville I‘m a little boggled by why it‘s so popular. But it obviously resonates with a lot of people, which is great. Greta actually slid all the way off the bed two nights ago and only the back two legs were still on it. And Gunther always used to lay on the couch with his head dangling off. Weirdos. 4w
Soubhiville Wow, I‘m trying to picture Gunther with his head hanging off the couch. Seems really uncomfortable. There were little snippets I liked, such as Francie‘s love for the library and plan to read all the books, and the story of the doll Mary (if you got that far), but mainly I was bored and kind of appalled with the adult‘s behavior. I understand a lot of that was due to the times, but what a sad situation. 4w
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Bette I always feel guilty too when I don't like something everyone raves about. Liked your review. 👍 ❤️🐶 4w
Hooked_on_books @Soubhiville I definitely liked pieces as well. I don‘t remember the doll, but Francie and the library was great and I loved Sissy. I emailed you a picture of Gunther that I found on my phone. He was such a goof. 4w
Hooked_on_books @Bette Thank you! Sometimes I just hate a book people love and then I‘m driven crazy by the glowing reviews. 😂 I was at least happy here that I didn‘t hate it. Just didn‘t work for me. But it makes me happy that so many people love it—I‘m glad they are having a good reading experience. 4w
Bette Yep. When Handing books across the desk at the library that I didn't care for I was always like: I hope you like it! Cuz every book isn't for everyone. 👍❤️ 4w
Hooked_on_books @Bette That‘s an excellent point! Booksellers would have this issue, too. I read a funny story of a librarian suggesting a book to a patron that she knew would be a bit of a stretch but she thought the woman could handle it. The patron returned the book 3 days later and avoided looking the librarian in the face for a while plus never asked for a recommendation again. Funny but oops! 😂 4w
Bette A pitfall for sure! 😳🤣 4w
44 likes9 comments
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OriginalCyn620
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Pickpick

I‘m glad I‘ve finally read this classic - Betty Smith‘s writing is beautiful! I enjoyed getting to know Francie and what her childhood was like in the early 1900s. And it‘s definitely a love letter to Brooklyn!
#ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead
#popsugar2020 - a Bildungsroman

runswithscissors007 One of my favourites. Probably 1st ever book to movie adaptations that I watched... and watched and watched again.😬. Thanks for the reminder! 4w
rubyslippersreads @runswithscissors007 ❤️❤️❤️ both the book and the movie! 4w
OriginalCyn620 I haven‘t seen the movie @runswithscissors007 and @rubyslippersreads ...maybe I should check it out! (edited) 4w
runswithscissors007 @OriginalCyn620 I think I will look it up again. It‘s been well over 30 years! 4w
72 likes4 comments
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CoffeeNBooks
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Pickpick

I absolutely enjoyed reading this book! There was so much description about the characters and setting, you felt like you were right there in Brooklyn with Francie and her family.
#ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead
#ReadingThroughTheYears192021 #1943
#LitsyAtoZ #T @BookishMarginalia

Cortg One of my faves! My daughter helped me name my new aloe plant Francie. She felt it needed a literary name and asked me to name some of my favorite books. 4w
janeycanuck I loved it, too. So happy you did a buddy read for this! I think I‘ll miss the last discussion, though 🙁 4w
mrp27 I'm not quite finished but I'm pretty sure it's going to be a 5 star read and an all time favorite. 4w
115 likes3 comments
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dariazeoli
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Just finished the book, but I‘m not quite ready to say goodbye to Francie. Give it another couple hours.

litenthusiast One of my favorite books! 4w
dariazeoli @litenthusiast Glad to have finally read it (I thought I had, but I was so mistaken)! 4w
64 likes2 comments
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Reviewsbylola
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So I‘m way behind for #atreegrowsinbrooklynbuddyread, but I figured better late than never. I loved it the first time around and I‘m loving it the second time around. 😍 #classicschallenge2020 #bathandbook

Mdargusch Great photo! 1mo
Linsy Beautiful 💙 3w
104 likes2 comments
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Chab256

"Yet, there was this tree growing in the yard ... It looked like a packed crowd of people of assorted sizes, standing umbrella-protected in the rain."
"When she spoke, she spoke truly with the plain right words. And her thoughts walked in a clear uncompromising line."
"And he asked for her whole life as simply as he'd asked for a date. And she promised away her whole life as simply as she's offer a hand in greeting or farewell."
#quotes

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Chab256
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Pickpick

I'm not usually one for books heavy on descriptive elements & lacking in plot development, but I did enjoy this one! I was drawn into Francie's world in Brooklyn in the early 1900s by the type of voice Smith gives her...her descriptions being concise & honest yet poetic. Things like: "They sounded like words that came in a can; the freshness cooked out of them."
Each time I returned to the story I felt like I was visiting an old friend.
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Suet624 I love that quote! 3w
47 likes1 comment
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Andrea313
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There might be #HardTimes for Francie but there is also courage and tenacity and determination to read every book in the world. #NewYearNewYou
@Eggs

Eggs Love this one💗💗 1mo
Louise Your post reminded me that I‘ve been meaning to read this book for ages, so I just ordered it! 🤓 4w
Andrea313 @Louise Yay! I am so excited for you, and almost jealous that you get to enjoy this for the first time. It's a real favorite of mine. Please report back with your review! ❤ 4w
Louise Will do! I‘m looking forward to reading it at last! 4w
30 likes4 comments
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Scochrane26
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Pickpick

This has been in my tbr for several years, & thanks to @CoffeeNBooks for hosting the #atreegrowsinbrooklynbuddyread, I have finally read it. This has been a good reading day—I have finished 2 amazing books. ATGIB started off slow, but by the time I got to the 2nd section, I loved it. The ending was bittersweet, as are most changes/endings in our lives. I‘ll want to visit Francie & her fam again. A New York read for #readtheUSA2020.

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CoffeeNBooks
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Scochrane26 My problem with buddy reads is I have to review what I‘ve read each week or I lose the momentum & forget what happened. I finished this section early in the week, I‘ll have to skim before starting the last section. I really like the book though & am curious about Francie‘s future. 1mo
mrp27 My favorite part of this weeks reading was the passage when Kaite tipped the .20 cents at the ice cream parlour. Foolish yes when that amounted to 4 loaves of bread but what resolve. Go Katie. 1mo
janeycanuck @mrp27 but she had a good point about twenty cents being all it took to feel rich! 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks @janeycanuck Yes! That part was great. 1mo
OriginalCyn620 @mrp27 yes, that part was great and probably my favorite too! And I can‘t wait to see how the book ends. 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks
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CoffeeNBooks I think this makes her feel like she's part of a bigger group than just the girls she works with, because now she's part of the group of people who work. I think it makes her feel more grown up and responsible. 1mo
dariazeoli I think Francie realizes she‘s part of something bigger. For generations, people have gone to work. Earning your first paycheck is a step towards the freedom we all strive for. 1mo
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CocoReads In total agreement with everyone else 1mo
mrp27 Ditto. Francie is discovering the bigger picture and her role in it. 1mo
BarbaraJean I loved this scene. Francie realizing her ability to help provide for the family, and hers and Neely‘s pride in their new role/responsibility is so sweet. But also I loved how it kind of brought them into the adult community—how others sharing their stories of bringing home their first pay kind of validates Francie and Neely as adults. 1mo
OriginalCyn620 I totally agree with all of your comments! 😊 (edited) 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks
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Kdgordon88 I was glad when the ice was finally broken and they accepted her into their circle. She has not had many positive experiences in the outside world. 1mo
CoffeeNBooks @Kdgordon88 I agree. It was the first time she was really accepted as part of a group of friends. 1mo
dariazeoli It was nice to see her belong, but I felt bad that hazing had to play a part. 1mo
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Scochrane26 I think she finally realized at graduation that she could have had friends & am glad she‘s able to be open to a group at the job. 1mo
mrp27 Agreed. Again she broke my heart when she realised at graduation that she too could have friends and then at last at work she found some. 1mo
janeycanuck @Scochrane26 @mrp27 It was so sad when she realized those girls wanted to be her friends... I‘m happy she‘s making friends at the new job though. 1mo
OriginalCyn620 I agree with @Kdgordon88. At first I was mad that they were giving her a hard time because Francie didn‘t have friends at school, but I hope being accepted by a group is a turning point for her! 1mo
Readswithcoffee She has always been such a lonely child, it is good to see her have friends. 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks
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Chab256 I almost cried! I do hope her Papa really asked Sissy to do that for Francie before his death, but even if it was Sissy... 1mo
Kdgordon88 What a precious gift! Regardless where it originated it allowed Francie to feel pride in her accomplishment. 1mo
CoffeeNBooks I think it was so thoughtful of Johnny to do that, and I think Francie really needed to feel like someone remembered her, too. Both because she thought she was going to be the only girl who didn't get flowers, and also because it was obvious to her that Katie would go to Neeley's graduation. 1mo
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dariazeoli I was happy that Johnny thought enough to give the money to Sissy for the flowers. He loved Francie and he recognized his weaknesses. This was his way of not letting one interfere with the other. 1mo
Scochrane26 It was sweet & allowed for her to have a good memory. 1mo
mrp27 It made my heart soar and I may have shed a tear. I felt proud of Johnny in his thoughtfulness and Sissy in her follow through in that moment to recognize Francie. I think they both knew Katie wouldn't. 1mo
janeycanuck @Chab256 it didn‘t even occur to me that Sissy would have done it but said it was Johnny! 1mo
BarbaraJean 😭I loved that Johnny thought ahead to set this up with Sissy. It made me wonder if he knew he might die before Francie graduated, or if he didn‘t trust himself to keep the money, or...? The “In case I forget” excuse didn‘t ring true to me. He no doubt knew that Katie would favor Neely when the two kids graduated, so I feel like that was part of it as well. I loved that Francie had flowers, after she‘d been so careful to not get her hopes up! 1mo
BarbaraJean @Chab256 Francie recognized both Johnny‘s handwriting as well as the ink they had at home, so I didn‘t get the impression that Sissy just did it herself and said it was Johnny. (Although that does sound like something Sissy would do!!) 1mo
OriginalCyn620 I admit I teared up! Johnny May have had his faults but he was a good and thoughtful father to Francie. 1mo
Daisey @BarbaraJean I got the feeling that he knew he might die, and the excuse/explanation was just his way of justifying it. I loved this scene as well! I believe Johnny did it himself, but I wondered if maybe Sissy added to make it a bigger bouquet. (edited) 1mo
catiewithac I full on ugly cried when Johnnie washed Francie's leg with carbolic acid after the creeper tried to molest her. I couldn't speak to my wife for several minutes without sobbing. Johnnie gets me in my feelings every time 💕 1mo
Chab256 Good point @BarbaraJean! 1mo
Readswithcoffee It‘s a bittersweet moment. Sweet that Johnny thought ahead to provide Francie with flowers to make her feel special, but sad that he could not overcome his addiction which killed him. 1mo
9 likes14 comments
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CoffeeNBooks
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Chab256 Omg! I was livid! Who is she to decide that students must write about only "beautiful" things? To write only what essentially is fluff? Who is she to decide that there isn't beauty and power in raw honesty...in topics she deems "ugly" such as poverty and alcoholism. And then when Francie asks her "What is beauty?" and Miss Garnder says "I can think of no better definition than Keats': 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty.' WTactualF? The irony in that! 1mo
Kdgordon88 @Chab256 Exactly! 1mo
CoffeeNBooks @Chab256 That's exactly what I thought. I wrote several comments in the margin of my book about that. Why does the teacher get to decide what truth and beauty are? Francie was writing about her truth. 1mo
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dariazeoli That teacher was so annoying. Truth can be beautiful, but not in the way she tries to force Francie into. 1mo
Scochrane26 I was angry, too. It‘s nice to have books about beauty, but they don‘t make you think much or help you learn. How is Francie supposed to write about beautiful things when she doesn‘t have many in her life? I felt like the teacher must have been privileged or just couldn‘t face anything real. 1mo
CocoReads It‘s sort of like the teacher wanted to “sanitize” the world. Realizing that not everyone‘s truth is the same makes for better people I think. You learn empathy for others. Etc I could go on but I‘m at work and probably should do some. 🤣🤣 1mo
mrp27 Ugh! The teacher was horrible and the perfect example of what not to do as an educator. Broke my heart that she made Francie doubt herself as a writer and for making her feel like her life and family were not worthy. 1mo
janeycanuck I wanted to smack the smug, sanctimonious look off her face. Can you imagine a teacher saying those things today?! It was just like the doctor at the vaccination all over again... 1mo
Scochrane26 I guess when I think about it, the teacher is showing classism like the dr did. They don‘t think certain classes have worthy stories or lives, although I don‘t know if the teacher knew how poor Francie was. 1mo
BarbaraJean Ugh. It was just bad writing advice, and then she was so oblivious and tone-deaf in her remarks about how difficult her life has been (alas, having to do without a maid). 🙄 And then how she kept saying that Francie would grow up and see how right she was and thank her. 🤦🏻‍♀️ I loved Francie‘s little parenthetical commentary and wished Francie would have said some of the things she was thinking!! 1mo
OriginalCyn620 It was maddening because not everyone knows beauty! Sometimes people only know the opposite of that and if they‘re moved to write about it, they should be able to. 1mo
Daisey This scene was so frustrating! I was amazed she could use the Keats quote without seeing what she was saying. Knowing the story is somewhat autobiographical, it made me think how important this story has been to readers in similar situations. 1mo
catiewithac I'm 40 and never had to read ATGIB for school, but people who are older than me did. I'm sure the content would be considered objectionable again now (with Johnnie's alcoholism and Sissy's condom factory job). The “sordid“ elements of this book are what make it so special and uniquely American. Miss Gardner voices the opinions of educators of her time (conservative opinions that are now resurfacing). 1mo
catiewithac I love the fantasy dialogue Francie imagines between her and Miss Gardner. I know ATGIB isn't Proust, but I enjoy these vignettes of memory. Haven't we all had such fantasies about someone who offends us? 1mo
Readswithcoffee It is terrible. The teacher is trying to stuff Francie into a box of what she deems to be acceptable. This is the perfect way to crush a child‘s spirit and creativity. 1mo
Lunaglassart This was likely very typical behavior at the time - especially in reference to girls. Teachers were quite concerned about how girls appeared, spoke, etc. - even up into the 50s. My mother taught me to be independent, so of course this teacher‘s actions raise my mental hackles. 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks
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Chab256 I loved the line Francie uses in this part about Katie: "And her thoughts walked in a clear uncompromising line." 1mo
Kdgordon88 I think Katie is determined to stay strong. It is the one thing she can give her children and it can be relied upon. 1mo
CoffeeNBooks I'm impressed with Katie's resolve. No matter what she's been up against, she doesn't seem to crumble under the pressure. She holds her head high and determines what she needs to do to take care of her family. 1mo
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Scochrane26 Yes, I think Francie will know her mother can be relied on. 1mo
dariazeoli Yes. I think as she gets older, she understands her mother more. Some of Katie‘s choices or feelings might be frustrating, but she believes her mom is doing the best she can. 1mo
mrp27 I think so. I love that Francie can recognize Katie's strength and that she can rely on it. 1mo
janeycanuck @dariazeoli and I think she sees more and more that it‘s Katie who has kept the family running. 1mo
catiewithac Her mother's resolve is the thing Francie most respects about Katie. The fumbling reveals Katie's humanity and depth of her feelings. Francie doesn't think of her mother as weak; she recognizes her mom as a person with feelings. 1mo
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CocoReads
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Snowy night. I‘m all caught up on the #ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead, we‘re under a winter weather advisory but as there‘s no snow days in healthcare and I work this weekend, I‘m going to enjoy a few chapters of my current library book and turn in early. Happy Reading, Littens!

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Daisey
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Pickpick

My library loan expires this weekend and there are others waiting, so I finished listening ahead of schedule. I can completely see why so many readers connect to the experiences of this story. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, and I loved how well I felt that I got to know the characters.

Thanks @CoffeeNBooks for finally motivating me to read this book and I look forward to the rest of the discussion!

#ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead #audiobook

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Daisey
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I really enjoyed this short scene about the autograph books and the rhymes fellow students wrote to Francie. They‘re creative and amusing. Just a few weeks ago, my dad was showing me these same kind of autograph books from my grandparents‘ school days in the 1930s.

#ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead

Scochrane26 I thought these were cute, too. I had an autograph book as a kid (I guess because we didn‘t have yearbooks that young), but kids didn‘t put rhymes in it. (edited) 1mo
Daisey @Scochrane26 My grandma had one with signatures from several years. It was fascinating to see. A lot of the younger kids had just signatures or short lines somehow including “remember me.” The really entertaining rhymes were mostly high school students. 1mo
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Daisey
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I first learned about these incubators for premature babies when reading The Electric Woman and found it interesting to see them mentioned here. Again Sissy is pretty creative in her methods.

#ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead

Sace I always lived Sissy. 1mo
Sace 🙄 I mean LOVED (stupid auto correct.) 1mo
Daisey @Sace I don‘t have as much love for Sissy as many other readers seem to have, but she‘s absolutely creative and determined. 1mo
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Chab256
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MidnightBookGirl I loved Educated! 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks
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Lifeisasnap Can you use all your senses in this section? That i think is what makes Betty Smith‘s writing style so miraculous. It‘s a true gift to write like she did. I‘ve read a ton of books & there are a few handfuls over the last two years that i can say reach to what she did. Maybe our TV consumption has dulled our minds to not write as descriptively as so many of the classics are written. I‘m not sure, i just know my favs are all older. I‘m generalizing. 1mo
Lifeisasnap Thanks for hosting!! 1mo
Hooked_on_books Sissy confronting the teacher was just outstanding. I‘ve liked Sissy all the way through, but I really loved her after that scene. 1mo
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janeycanuck @Hooked_on_books yeah, that was a great scene part of the book. So was the chapter about Evy and the horse! Smith is injecting such wonderful humour into this book, it would be such a heartbreak otherwise. 1mo
CoffeeNBooks @Hooked_on_books @janeycanuck Yes! Those scenes were great! 1mo
dariazeoli I agree with what everyone else has said. I also really loved how much the scene with the baby being hit with the rock impacted Francie. You could feel her shame in the way it was written. 1mo
OriginalCyn620 I agree with you all. And yes, @janeycanuck the humor sprinkled in here and there is a welcome respite from all the sadness. 1mo
catiewithac I love how tender Johnnie is in this part of the book. How he supports Francie‘s desire to change schools and cleans her arm after the vaccine. Despite his flaws, he has such a magnificent heart! 1mo
CoffeeNBooks @catiewithac I agree! I think we saw a side of him that we hadn't seen before. 1mo
Readswithcoffee I loved the description of the stores in the neighborhood. 1mo
BarbaraJean @catiewithac Yes—I love that Johnny is a more complex character than just the drunk father who can‘t get/keep a job. The chapter where he takes the kids fishing was so heartbreaking to me. He does try so hard in some ways! And I feel like he provides the emotional support that Francie doesn‘t get from Katie. 1mo
BarbaraJean @dariazeoli Yes—there‘s so much going on in that scene! Francie is struggling with her shame at not standing up for Joanna, but also with the ideas of “good” & “bad” she‘s being taught vs. her own natural sense of right & wrong. We also see that with Sissy—I love how the narrative questions the labels of good & bad, showing the contrast between “bad” women like Sissy & Joanna vs. “good” women who throw actual ROCKS at a young mother & her baby! 1mo
Chab256 @catiewithac Yes, Johnny really does love his daughter despite his various character flaws. His redeeming characteristics make me that much sadder for him in many ways though... 1mo
mrp27 Loving every bit of this book. The Christmas chapter really stood out, I felt like I was there and could feel the cold and smell the tree. Also loved Sissy confronting the teacher and Francie's desire to change schools. That really hit me and I hope her desire for schooling brings real change for her. 1mo
Scochrane26 I‘m a little late in responding. I read most of this section today, but then had to go a few places. I really liked this section, better than the first. The humor, the scenes when Johnny is helping Francie, & her thoughts about how women treat each other were my favorite. Excited to read the next section. 1mo
catiewithac @mrp27 I loved Aunt Sissy‘s improvisation, too!! Francie had no choice but to become a writer with all these characters in her life! 1mo
catiewithac I only underlined one thing in this section: Johnny‘s comment to Francie about the painted lady. “‘There are very few bad people. There are just a lot of people that are unlucky.‘” We‘re all just doing our best here. 1mo
erzascarletbookgasm I agree with @BarbaraJean about Johnny. The fishing trip was a memorable scene for me- heartbreaking but also funny in parts. 1mo
rubyslippersreads @catiewithac I think Johnny and Katie are both just doing the best they can, in different ways. 1mo
Readswithcoffee I really like the way you have structured this buddy read with the questions being posted once a week instead of at the end of the month. Reading in smaller chunks lets me concentrate more on the descriptive language, the development of the characters, etc. 1mo
dariazeoli @catiewithac That‘s a great line! 1mo
Daisey @janeycanuck I really enjoyed the section about Eve and the horse as well. These sections of humor really are great and help balance the tougher sections. 1mo
Daisey @catiewithac @BarbaraJean I agree that one of the great things about Johnnie is the complexity of his character. To me this seems a complexity that would resonate with a lot of readers. 1mo
49 likes23 comments
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CoffeeNBooks
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Hooked_on_books I wanted to smack her. She doesn‘t support her daughter at all. It‘s deplorable. 1mo
janeycanuck @Hooked_on_books yeah, I didn‘t love it either. There‘s that whole chunk where Katie was mulling over how her kids needed an education but that it would put them above her, etc. So I think she‘s conflicted - she wants better for her kids but also is struggling with the idea that they may lose respect for her. So I think she‘s trying to protect herself? But you‘re right - she‘s Francie‘s mother and should be supportive!! 1mo
dariazeoli Katie is so frustrating. She spends so much energy protecting herself when allowing herself to support Francie in a demonstrative way would be so good for both of them! 1mo
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OriginalCyn620 As a mom, I think she‘s horrible. If it had been Neeley, she would‘ve dropped everything and thrown a parade. Okay, maybe not. It‘s like she can‘t be bothered to show even the slightest bit of attention or love to her daughter. It was the same with the Christmas presents! 1mo
BarbaraJean I was frustrated by her response, but I also wonder if she didn‘t understand how much it meant to Francie. I think Katie and Francie are two entirely different personalities—Katie is practical and always thinking of how they will get by (thus her not having time to read the story b/c she has to go back to work) and Francie is an observer and a dreamer. Katie even thinks at one point how they don‘t understand each other. ⤵️ 1mo
BarbaraJean I think Katie is a different type of mother than Francie really needs—Katie tries her best to provide a better future for her kids in the way she knows how. But she does that in practical rather than emotional ways. Francie needs that encouragement and support, but I think those are things Katie doesn‘t really understand how to provide. 1mo
Readswithcoffee Definitely no ‘Mother of the Year‘ award for Katie! Shame on her. 1mo
catiewithac @janeycanuck I agree with you. When Katie has her moment of enlightenment as the Christmas tree comes upstairs, she realizes that she needs her kids to be better than herself but will also resent it. She anticipates Francie feeling ashamed of her parents. But this fear is self-fulfilling. If Katie had been capable of vulnerably and tenderness she might have a better relationship with Francie. 1mo
mrp27 I'm not a parent so it's really difficult for me to understand Katie and her response. I don't get at all how she can admit loving and caring about Neely more. I get that a parent can feel differently about their children but to love one less is mind boggling. Can't she just fake it for Francie's behalf or is she just raising her up to face the harsh realities of life? 1mo
rubyslippersreads I think part of it is that Katie wants to suppress any of Johnny‘s characteristics that show up in Francie, even the good ones, like dreaming and creativity. In Katie‘s eyes, those are useless and dangerous things. 1mo
Scochrane26 I was irritated with Katie, too, in these scenes. But, I do think it‘s easy, especially for mothers, to get caught up in everything you have to get done & forget to stop & spend time w/ your kids. I see that today w/ mothers a lot. For Katie, she‘s trying to make sure her family has basic needs. See Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs 1mo
catiewithac @Scochrane26 Are you a nurse? Nursing school beats Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs into our heads!! As much as I love Johnny, I feel for Katie, too. She married an alcoholic and has to provide everything for her family. This burden obviously hardened her in ways she could not have imagined as a young woman. 1mo
Scochrane26 @catiewithac Lol, I‘m a social worker/therapist. I often work w/ low-I come fams & have found that if they‘re basic needs aren‘t met, they can‘t focus on therapy, positive attention, etc. 1mo
erzascarletbookgasm I feel so sad for Francie. 1mo
TheBookHippie @mrp27 my mother raised her children like this hated me loved my brother and it is mind boggling. I read this book the first time and was like AHA! 1mo
TheBookHippie @Scochrane26 I see this in my title one school kiddos too. 1mo
TheBookHippie @janeycanuck I‘ve had parents throw away books I‘ve given their kids because they are only allowed to read at their level not higher ... 1mo
TheBookHippie @Hooked_on_books it‘s mind boggling to me. 1mo
TheBookHippie Sorry I‘ve been retreading and I love it all over again! Catching up now with these!!!! 1mo
mrp27 @TheBookHippie Oh wow, sorry to hear that. Your upbringing must have been difficult. Did reading this help you at all understand your mother or childhood any better? 1mo
TheBookHippie @mrp27 Actually it made me feel not alone. I found solace in reading and thankfully was with my grandma often for extended stays. There is no understanding my mother, other than she did what she could with the capacity she had and her own demons. Some people are just cruel. 1mo
mrp27 @TheBookHippie and that's why reading is so magical, makes us feel seeing and heard! 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks
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Hooked_on_books I think and hope so. One would think winning a contest would spur her on to continue writing, encouraging her interest. Plus, seeing your piece in print—wow! 1mo
Chab256 Absolutely, especially since we know ATGIB is a a semi-autobiographical novel of Betty Smith's life. 😉 1mo
Lifeisasnap Absolutely! I picture Francie as Betty when she was writing this story. If she didn‘t my writing would‘ve never happened. She, Francie inspired me. 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks When Betty Smith was 11, she was able to get two of her poems published in a Brooklyn newspaper. Unfortunately, her father died when she was 12, and she had to quit school to help support her family. She continued writing, and eventually won a $1500 prize for a play called Francie Nolan. She used the money to buy a typewriter, continued to dream of becoming a novelist, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was finally published in 1943 when she was 47. 1mo
Hooked_on_books What a great story. I‘m really glad you shared this! 1mo
janeycanuck @CoffeeNBooks that‘s a wonderful story. I didn‘t know any of that! 1mo
janeycanuck There‘s a lot of foreshadowing about her father‘s death. But her mother keeps saying she wants her children to have an education. So I assume that Francie will have to leave school to help support the family when her father dies but that writing will be her primary pastime when she‘s not working. 1mo
dariazeoli I do! 1mo
OriginalCyn620 Oh, I hope so! Writing seems to be an outlet for her and I hope she sticks with it. 1mo
OriginalCyn620 @CoffeeNBooks I didn‘t know that, but how awesome! Thanks for sharing! 😊 1mo
Readswithcoffee I think she will continue because she is so proud to have won the contest. Thanks for the info on Betty Smith, @CoffeeNBooks. 1mo
catiewithac I started writing diary entries when I was 12. I‘m reading Emily of New Moon right now, and her diary entries are similar. That‘s such an interesting time of life (and burgeoning self-awareness). Such a raw, terrifying time! 1mo
mrp27 I would hope and think so but life can get in the way so here's to hoping Francie continues. 1mo
rubyslippersreads I agree with everyone who says she will, since the book is semi-autobiographical. And after this, some of you might be interested in 1mo
Scochrane26 I hope that Francie gets an opportunity to continue writing & finish school. So many kids in poverty don‘t get the opportunities. I didn‘t know anything about Betty Smith, thanks @CoffeeNBooks 1mo
erzascarletbookgasm @CoffeeNBooks Great story and how admirable of Smith. 1mo
Daisey I agree that she will continue. Thank you for the biographical info @CoffeeNBooks and @rubyslippersreads! 1mo
TheBookHippie @rubyslippersreads I agree I liked that book very much! 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks
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Hooked_on_books I don‘t think it‘s so unusual for the day and age. Plus, she can‘t afford to be off work to go with them, which is still true for many parents now. And I think her kids were accustomed to being on their own a bit more, so while it was tough for them, it‘s nothing like what it would be for a kid now. 1mo
Kdgordon88 While I could never have imagined doing that I think in that time and place it was normal. Had it been unusual I‘m sure it would have been commented on by the clinic staff. 1mo
Lifeisasnap It definitely wasn‘t unusual to do stuff without your parents back then. My dad would go to Juliard as a 7 yr old from Brooklyn to Manhattan from a mile of walking to the subway station then onward to midtown. My grandma never feared for him. Kids then were able to play a tad and were older mentally and more independent than are a ton of kids today. My parents let me as a 12 year old with my 7 & 8 yr old sisters on the bus to downtown for shopping (edited) 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks I feel like Katie wanted them to get used to the harsh realities of life, and to be able to deal with the things they might encounter, but knowing her thoughts: "Katie knew she was letting them down. But she couldn't help it... she knew she couldn't stand the ordeal" makes it seem even worse when the nurse and doctor speak so rudely to/about Francie. Katie should have been there for them. 1mo
Lifeisasnap I guess it depends on where you grew up and how your parents grew up whether it seems odd or not. It‘s the old, so you raise a child or raise them to be adults for the harsh realities of living?? Just my 2 cents. 1mo
Chab256 It seemed horrible to me, especially because it had less to do with her missing work and more to do with her not wanting to see them go through it. But, I did not grow up in that time or place so.... 1mo
janeycanuck Given how many errands they run on their own, I don‘t think it‘s bad or unusual for them to do things without a parent. But I think Katie knew that this wasn‘t the same as an errand - and couldn‘t face taking the children herself. Not just because needles hurt but because she thought she was letting them down in even having them vaccinated. 1mo
dariazeoli On the one hand, Katie couldn‘t stand the ordeal of watching her kids get their shots. On the other, she knows they live a hard, hungry life with, at times, pain. Maybe this specific example is too much to bear witness to, but it still feels cowardly. 1mo
OriginalCyn620 I understand that she had to work and that Johnny is undependable, therefore they needed the money. And really, she sends them all over the neighborhood to do the shopping by themselves so it wasn‘t really surprising. I still felt bad for Francie and Neeley, though! 1mo
greenreads I felt bad for Kati, because she's struggling too. But the way she handled it, explaining to Francie why they had to be vaccinated, was just clever for me. 1mo
Readswithcoffee Being of the generation where we received vaccinations AT SCHOOL (no parents), it‘s not a big deal in and of itself. However, the fact that she couldn‘t bring herself to be there was rather cowardly. 1mo
catiewithac I wasn‘t a fan of forcing Francie to be right-handed. 1mo
NeedsMoreBooks @CoffeeNBooks agree. She should have been there with her kids. Vaccinations are scary, even for adults 😭 1mo
mrp27 Agree that Katie dealt with her feelings about it in a cowardly way but also understand that it was just the way things were done at the time. I know it's not meant to be funny but it made me chuckle a bit while comparing parenting then and now. 1mo
rubyslippersreads I think Katie excused her own reluctance to go with them by telling herself they might as well get used to the world being a harsh place. 1mo
erzascarletbookgasm Francie and Neeley have been so independent, running many errands on their own, so I‘m not shocked but agree with what @rubyslippersreads said. 1mo
TheBookHippie We got them at school and it was scary but everyone was in the same boat ..as an adult I cried right along with my babies and grand baby too. I think it just was. 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks
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CoffeeNBooks I think this is such a great description of a relatively ordinary thing. I think Betty Smith does a great job of describing things so you can really imagine them, and I think she also captures Francie's perspective and way of seeing things. 1mo
Hooked_on_books I think her descriptions are great. I‘d like a bit more plot, though. 1mo
Lifeisasnap I love B. Smith‘s writing style! My mom read me this book as a tiny little girl at bedtime. She would let my imagination soar & if i couldn‘t see it then she would describe it even more. We were living in NY. My dad grew up in Brooklyn so it was easy for her to bring Francie & Nelly‘s world to me. After i was older we walked the streets of the poorer neighborhoods just to feel what Francie was feeling. This is a book i read every year. 🎥 is 🤩2! 1mo
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Kdgordon88 I love her descriptions especially this one. It paints a perfectly clear picture. 1mo
Chab256 @Lifeisasnap That is so cool! 1mo
janeycanuck @Lifeisasnap aww, that‘s lovely! 1mo
janeycanuck Yes, Smith‘s writing is amazing. It really adds to making Brooklyn, itself, feel like a character of the story. 1mo
dariazeoli I like Smith‘s writing style. She paints a picture for the reader that‘s really immersive. 1mo
OriginalCyn620 Her writing is very descriptive, almost lyrical. 1mo
Readswithcoffee I really like her writing. It brings the situation to life for me. 1mo
CoffeeNBooks @Lifeisasnap I'll have to watch the movie when I'm done reading the book! 1mo
CoffeeNBooks @OriginalCyn620 I like that description- lyrical is a good way to describe her writing! 1mo
catiewithac As rich as her descriptions are, I think Smith‘s writing is strongest in her character descriptions. The people are what keeps drawing me back in. #auntsissyforever 1mo
NeedsMoreBooks @OriginalCyn620 agree that her writing is very lyrical @CoffeeNBooks her descriptions are beautiful without being too wordy 1mo
mrp27 Agree with everyone here, her descriptions are beautiful and her characters are really fleshed out, faults and all. 1mo
Lifeisasnap @CoffeeNBooks it‘s a really old movie so not sure if you will have to rent it off Amazon maybe check Netflix... i hope you find it. Enjoy. 1mo
rubyslippersreads @CoffeeNBooks @lifeisasnap I love the movie. I think it may be available on YouTube. 1mo
catiewithac Smith‘s writing style has a strong flavor of nostalgia and sadness. I haven‘t read Proust, but now I want to read Swann‘s Way. 1mo
Lifeisasnap @rubyslippersreads that‘s a good place for it too be. Thanks. 1mo
erzascarletbookgasm @Lifeisasnap that‘s so cool! 1mo
erzascarletbookgasm Her writing gives a great sense of place. I like her writing. 1mo
Daisey Agreed! I love the descriptive writing about both the places and the characters. 1mo
TheBookHippie I love it. It paints a very clear picture so we can out ourselves in the story. 1mo
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CoffeeNBooks
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Discussion of chapters 15-32 this afternoon. I enjoyed last week's discussion, and I appreciate all of you who are reading this with me right now!
#ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead

TheBookHippie Thanks for this what a wonderful reread I am having! 1mo
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Daisey
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#BookReport #DaiseysReadingWeek
🎧 Independent People - #ReadingEurope2020 #Iceland
📖 The English Patient

#CurrentlyReading
🎧 #ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead
🎧 Hunger
📖 The Magician of Lublin (My at school book, so could be a slow read.)
📖 #CovertoCover postal book club book
📖 #FellowshipofTolkien Readalong

#WeeklyForecast
📚 Continue current reads
📖 Start The Girls at 17 Swann Street - #LitsyBookClub
🎧 Start 1 of these for #Reading1001

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CocoReads
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Working on catching up for #ATreeGrowsInBrooklynBuddyRead but widow seems more atmospheric today as our rain has switched to the yuckier sleet/snow mix. The lights have flickered and the hubs has decided to stay home to watch football instead of heading to his friends. A good day to huddle with a pile of good books, a hot beverage, and a soft blanket.