A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Group Read (August 1, 2012)

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Group Read (August 1, 2012)

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Editado: Jul 25, 2012, 4:31pm

"On the day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived." A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Hmm, what an intriguing line. What kind of person would have said something like that? Perhaps this someone is like you. Perhaps you share a kinship before you've even turned a page.

Welcome to all of you who have expressed an interest in joining me (Carmenere aka Lynda) for a group read of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

The GR officially begins on August 1st but please read at your own pace and post when the urge strikes you. I only ask that should you post a comment which contains a potential spoiler and so as not to spoil the read for anyone please indicate it in this or a similar manner: SPOILER ALERT

I've posted 4 of the 21 available covers so if your cover differs feel free to share it with us.

I look forward to all comments, even if you think you've got nothing to add, chances are you do. Enjoy!

Jul 25, 2012, 4:35pm

Added this thread to the grou wiki just now...

Jul 25, 2012, 4:36pm

Wow! You're amazing, Jim! Thanks :0)

Jul 25, 2012, 5:04pm

Hi Lynda,

Thanks for setting this up - I'm keen. I found this at a secondhand book fair earlier this year and have heard such great things about it on LT. I'm underwater with my new teaching placement though so might be a very quiet group member, and first I have to finish Sea of Poppies and Barchester Towers!

Jul 25, 2012, 5:28pm

Thanks for setting up this thread, Lynda. Beautiful job! I always like seeing the different covers that a book has had. I'll post a link on my thread, too. I'm excited to get to this one.

Jul 25, 2012, 5:46pm

Pretty thread! I think I'm in....pretty sure, just not positive :P

Jul 25, 2012, 6:25pm

Lynda- Good job getting this set-up. Very professional. I don't think I'll be starting it until mid-month but I'm there. I have both the book and the audio version. Locked & Loaded.

Jul 25, 2012, 7:39pm

I have this thread starred now
Not sure if I can join in but I will follow along as I really want to read this book

Jul 25, 2012, 7:58pm

This is getting serious, now I have to find my copy.

Jul 25, 2012, 9:46pm

Ready for Aug 1!!

Jul 26, 2012, 12:43am

Oooh, I have this one sitting on my TBR bookcase. No guarantees but I will try to join the group read in August!

Jul 26, 2012, 6:55am

#4 Hi Cushla! *Tossing you a life preserver to keep you above water* August is a long month so hopefully you'll have time to squeeze in ATGiB.

#5 Thanks for posting the link, Mamie. Your thread is a very poplular place so it's a terrific thread to get the word out. :0)

#6 Kath, I do hope you're in!

#7 Mid-month sounds good, Mark. We'll be here when you're ready to press the release.

#8 I'm sure August will be a very busy month for you, Chelle, so stop in whenever you need a breather.

#9 Yup, Laura, as serious as a heart attack. I sometimes wish that you could call books so they'd beep like cell phones when you've misplaced them. Hope you find yours.

#10 *high fives, Cathy* good to have you aboard

#11 Great Lori, I hope you get the chance to follow along with us!

Here is a short bio of author, Betty Smith, from wikipedia:

Born on December 15, 1896 in Brooklyn, New York to German immigrants, she grew up poor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and attended Girl's High School.1 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 Avery 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).

On January 17, 1972, she died from pneumonia in Shelton, Connecticut, at the age of 75.

Jul 26, 2012, 3:33pm

My mother, who is 81, is just reading ATGIB, she says for the first time, and loving every bit. I've read it at least twice in my lifetime, but I am quite tempted to join this group read. I'll see how my August shapes up. And I just discovered that I was born on Betty Smith's birthday--thanks for that information, Lynda!

Jul 26, 2012, 8:27pm

I heard how good this book was, so I borrowed it from the library about three weeks ago...and started reading it last night. So far I like it! :)

Jul 29, 2012, 10:16pm

#13 And I just discovered that I was born on Betty Smith's birthday Nice coincidence, Linda. I hope you have time to fit in a reread of ATGiB. It would be interesting to see if your feelings had changed about it through the years.

#14 I'm glad to see you're enjoying it, fuzzi. Have you finished it?

For all TIOLI Challengers: I've created challenge #10 for August which applies to our Group Read.

Jul 29, 2012, 10:44pm

Carmenere, did so tonight and posted my review (no spoilers, I think).

Jul 30, 2012, 7:12am

Drat it.. I have to look for this book, I keep forgetting....

Jul 31, 2012, 7:17am

Okay, found it.. I'm in.

Editado: Jul 31, 2012, 7:41am

fuzzi, I read and thumbed your review. You're right, no spoilers. It makes me want to get to it all the more.

Yeah, Kath! so glad you're in.

I anticipate beginning this book on Aug 1st. Can't wait to see why everyone loves it so much.

Many of you might know that a movie version of the book has been made. here's a little clip.

Jul 31, 2012, 7:54am

"This reading will not stop!" Love this granny :) It has been so many years since I read this... I just don't remember anything. I have an image in my mind of a girl sitting in a window, with a book... reading, dreaming. I don't know if that is an image from the book or something my silly mind made up on ints own. I look forward to finding out. I am both glad that this GR is pushing me to reread this now, and a bit anxious about it. Anxious for it, too .

Thanks for the clip Lynda!

Jul 31, 2012, 9:00am

I have my ancient book out and ready to go. This was one of my mother's favorite books, and I have read it twice now...both times many years ago. My (inherited) copy is from 1943 and was "manufactured in strict conformity with Government regulations for saving paper."

Jul 31, 2012, 11:04am

> 19
It was falling in love with the movie when I was a teenager that lead me to read the book many years ago. I really expect to love it again!

Jul 31, 2012, 8:55pm

I'm interested. Hang on.... yep, I've got a copy on my Nook.

Ago 1, 2012, 12:25am

I've also managed to get myself a copy... so will be reading along, though might be starting late as there's a number of books I've already started reading and I should probably finish some before starting new reads :/

Editado: Ago 1, 2012, 6:41am

Happy August 1st, everybody. What a great group we have! Seems like just yesterday we were talking about reading this book together and now it's finally here! I need to finish up an ER book today but I'll begin ATGiB this afternoon. Hope this is a great experience for everybody. Happy reading!

#20 Hey Kath, I've never seen the movie nor read the book so all of this is new,new,new to me. What granny says after that quote probably hit home to many of that time period, immigrants who cherished the freedoms available to them. I could easily imagine my grandparents being just has hepped up as granny.

#21 Lucky you, Donna! Your book sounds like a real treasure. How cool to read the same words and hold the same book as your mother. I'm thinking of giving it to my mom (now that her cataract has been removed) to read after I've finished it. She's from Manhattan and would probably enjoy reading of a time and place she remembers so well.

#22 Cathy, I must have been living in lala land when I was a kid. How did I miss this book AND movie!? Life with blinders on, I suppose :0}

#23 Yeah, hb'srus! It's always nice to see new people. So glad you're joining us!

#24 Yeah, Britt! Another new to me name. Glad to have you aboard!

Ago 1, 2012, 7:52am

My great grandparents were the immigrants. I have strong memories..

( Have you ever heard of the show I REMEMBER MAMA? I barely do, but I loved it )

I do know that this book was one of my favorites when I was a young girl, so I am looking forward to it now.

Ago 1, 2012, 5:25pm

OK - I'm here!
(Thanks to all enthusiastic chatting friends looking forward to this and Mamie who gave me a link I couldn't refuse!)

Have never read this book before but have certainly heard of it - tho I have no real idea what it is about. There's one way to find out!
Will be starting this very soon :-)

Ago 1, 2012, 5:42pm

Thanks for the welcome Lynda :)
For me, the book is new; I see many people here grew up with it, but I am not from the US and hadn't heard of it until quite recently...

Also, I love the quote in the first post :) I tried that for a while, reading a book a day, I was really obsessed with reading when I was a child. The one book a day thing didn't work out I'm afraid, and nowadays I have all sorts of grown-up things to do every day so I'm not able to read as much as I'd like. But it's an intriguing quote, and a really good starter, really makes me curious to see what the book is like...

Ago 1, 2012, 8:28pm

(25) I've never seen the movie, either, but I finally read the book, for the first time. Loved it!

Ago 1, 2012, 9:21pm

This is my first time reading the book also. I loved this quote:

"Sometimes she worried for fear the book would be lost in the library and she'd never be able to read it again. She had once started copying the book in a two-cent notebook. She wanted to own a book so badly and she thought the copying would do it. But the penciled sheets did not seem like nor smell like the library book so she had given it up, consoling herself with the vow that when she grew up, she would work hard, save money and buy every single book that she liked."

Ago 2, 2012, 7:13am

I started my re-read last night. I'm amazed at how familiar it feels as I go along, and how much detail I remember. My last read of Tree was probably twenty years ago---I don't think I've retained so much of many of the books I've read in those 20 years.

Ago 2, 2012, 7:45am

#26 Hey Kath, Glad you're looking forward to the read.

#27 Yeah, Cee's in the house, Cee's in the house!

#28 Hi there Britt, Hope you enjoy your trip to New York, via ATGIB

#29 Fuzzi, I'll probably borrow the movie from the library after I've read the book. (must check for availablity - It's an old one)

#30 That's a great quote, Mamie! If that's not love, I don't know what is!

#31 Linda, Your re-read sounds like going home to visit old friends. You're so right, there are not many books that leave that kind of feeling. Enjoy!

Thanks to all of you for stopping by and taking the time to share your thoughts and quotes.
It really makes for an enriching experience. Carry on :0)

Editado: Ago 3, 2012, 1:24pm

Ago 3, 2012, 9:31pm


Ago 5, 2012, 8:20am

Okay, first of all a big warm hug to Lynda, for the nudge and setting up this G.R. I am already on chapter 35, moving right along and it's been wonderful throughout. I can't believe how fresh it remains. Her observations and descriptions are vivid and thoughtful. And what a host of characters!
I've been listening to this on audio, which has been an ideal way to experience this book. The narrator is Barbara Rosenblat, (I'm not sure I've heard her before) and she gives one of the best presentations I've heard. She nails a variety of accents and sings like an angel, when she reads Johnny's many songs. LOVE IT!

Ago 5, 2012, 8:27am

Finally opened the book, and started to read................
Pretty flower!

Ago 5, 2012, 9:53am

I've just finished the first book, and I really love it so far. I can really relate to Francie on the reading, I used to read everything when I was a child and was really addicted to books myself...

Ago 5, 2012, 10:21am

This book sure resonates with my remembrance of losing myself in reading as a kid. And thinking about it now, I'm glad it was books and NOT drugs, violence or alcohol.
Could reading be a solution for many of our lost and lonely kids today? Sure wouldn't hurt, I'd say.

I also remember going to the library alone and spending lots of time there... do kids do that anymore? I never let my kids go alone.

I'm about half way through this book and not really sure how I feel about it yet.

#33 I saw that flower and said to myself "huh?"
OOOOO - it's a nasturtium! Wondered what they looked like. thanks for that...

Editado: Ago 5, 2012, 10:02pm

Oh my what a trip into the past this was. I read this book several times as a child. In fact, I was about Francie's age when I first read it. My only memory was of a girl in a window and a tree. For some reason that image stayed with me more than the story.

Read and reviewed.

Ago 6, 2012, 11:33pm

Well I'm getting a little bit late of a start and will have limited reading time for the next week or so but I am starting the book. I've never read it . I blame my woefully inadequate public school education for my dreadful history of classics reading but I will catch up or die trying.

Ago 7, 2012, 7:36am

I think that as long as you start it in August, you're in :) You never read it Bonnie?
I think you'll love it.. I can't wait to see..

Ago 7, 2012, 7:45am

(40) brenzi, my public school system exposed us to lots of stories in reading textbooks, but I didn't like the majority of them. So, I used the public library to discover the wonderful world of literature.

But I, too, alas! missed many of the classics, and just read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the first time. Enjoy!

Editado: Ago 7, 2012, 3:28pm

well... My school library had some twenty books, all of which I read numerous times before they would allow me to bring my own book. And our public library wasn't very well supplied with children's books either, so I basically started reading adult books when I was still quite young.

I am really loving this book though, it's so lovely and touching and beautiful! I've just finished the third book and am taking a break before starting on book four. It's also kind of humbling. I mean, we're all so spoiled nowadays! Many of my friends consider me to be 'poor' because I don't have money to buy anything I like and don't go on expensive holidays, but really, I have a nice appartment, with electricity and central heating and internet, and I have plenty of food at all times, and even some money left to buy luxuries such as books... So really, what do I have to complain about? Books like this make me just sit back for a moment and count my blessings, and feel happy about everything I have :)

Ago 7, 2012, 9:19pm

Britt, well 'spoken'.

When my dh and I had small children at home, we were so 'poor' that we could not afford a telephone. But we have many wonderful memories of those times, like taking the children to the local park, feeding the ducks, and doing other things together that cost little or no money.

Ago 8, 2012, 10:36am

#34 Yeah fuzzi! You picked up on that right away!

#35 I agree with you, Mark, ATGiB is wonderful throughout! It's a treasure.

#36 Glad you started, Kath. I bet you're finished by now, you little roadrunner reader, you. beep beep.

#37 Glad you can relate to Francie, Britt. I think many of us recall those days.

#38 Cee! Good point. Books vs Drugs - Books are free to all and enrich your life vs drugs which are certainly not free and can and have destroyed the lives of users and family. Hands down winner for me is books, how do we get kids to see that?!

#39 Kath! See you finished the book before I finished posting! beep beep!

#40 It's a shame Bonnie that you, I and many others missed out on so many awesome books. Although I and my parents thought I was getting a complete and well rounded education in a private highschool I can see now where they certainly fell short. And...........

#41 as Kath said, anytime you can pick up the book is fine. Take as long as you like.

#42 I agree with you, fuzzi. I read a lot at the library but had little guidance as to what to choose so I chose whatever was a popular read at the time. Wasn't until I got to college that I was introduced to many of the classics.

#43 I love your comments, Britt. You said it perfectly!

#44 Certainly true, fuzzi. Those together times are priceless. The we're in this together way of life, IMO, makes for a strong family.


My favorite part of the book thus far, is in Chapter 9 when Katie asks her mother what she must do to make a different world for baby daughter. I love her mother's answers. I even put some on my wiki so I can refer to them.

Ago 8, 2012, 5:00pm

I loved that part, too, Lynda! Especially where she explains why it is important for the child to have an imagination.

Ago 8, 2012, 5:27pm

That paragraph should be copied and handed out to all new parents........

Ago 11, 2012, 8:04am

#46 You're right, Mamie. Francie's imagination seem to pull here through many a predicament.
I particularly liked her game with numbers. Very creative!

#47 Totally,totally agree, Kath!! yet, someone somewhere would take offense etc, etc. So perhaps I'll just insert/attach the paragraphs to baby cards and gifts.

I'm almost half way through but I hope to finish by the 15th. I've got 6 more TIOLI's to read, yikes!

Ago 11, 2012, 8:07am

Lynda.. TIOLI's scare me off.. I can barely handle group reads.. lol
I am glad I joined this one though... I am still basking in the glow from this book.

Ago 12, 2012, 6:34pm

I finished and REVIEWED the book. Francie will stay with me for a long time. I'm always a sucker for coming of age stories but Francie was a particularly memorable, gutsy little character.

Ago 12, 2012, 8:17pm

thumbed. I have known a Francie or two in my life...

Ago 13, 2012, 7:16am

#49 I'm glad you decided to join in, Kath. It was good having you!

#50 Great review, Bonnie! Gutsy she was and that was just one of her attributes.
Glad you joined in and finally read this book.

Betty Smith was the author of three other books: Tomorrow Will Be Better, Maggie-Now and Joy in the Morning. Has anyone read or recommend any of these books?

I've just started Book 4. So I'm just about finished. Hanging on to Francie's every word and emotion.

Editado: Ago 13, 2012, 12:34pm

I just finished what I think is my third read of this book. So much of it came back so clearly that I can't believe I didn't remember that Francie and I share a birthday! I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories too, but often those from a female perspective don't speak to me, for some reason. This one really does, in spite of the vast difference in time and circumstances between Francie's childhood and mine. In real time, she could be my grandmother, but I feel I have more in common with her than with many of the girls I knew growing up.

#52 I remember reading Joy in the Morning long ago, I think as a teen-ager. I don't recall a lot about it, but I think I enjoyed it. Possibly because it was a bit more "realistic" about young married life than anything I'd read before? And I think it's really Francie's story continued, although I didn't pick up on that back then, and the characters' names are different. (In fact, it's possible I read Joy in the Morning before I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the first time.)

Ago 13, 2012, 12:27pm

I've got a reserve in at the public library for Joy in the Morning, and am looking forward to it. :)

Ago 14, 2012, 9:03am

I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but don't think I'll squeeze a reread in this month. I also have Joy in the Morning and Maggie-Now but not sure where they are, must try to find them and pick them up soon.

Ago 15, 2012, 9:26pm

#53 I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories too, but often those from a female perspective don't speak to me Good point, Linda. For me, I often find this subject is just too in your face but with Francie it's gradual and subtle.

#54 I may need to look into that too, fuzzi.

#55 Hi Elkie, glad you dropped in even though you've no time for a reread. Glad you remember it fondly.

I finished the book Monday and watched the movie version on Tuesday. It took me 1/2 an hour to figure out how to connect my old VHS player, but I succeeded. Found the movie to be good but I enjoyed the moved much more.
I'm currently writing my review and should have it posted sometime tomorrow.

Ago 17, 2012, 8:30am

My review can be found HERE

Ago 19, 2012, 12:08pm

Just finished 20 minutes ago. I specifically made myself do this group read after realizing that 3/70 of the books I've read this year are written by women, and I needed to balance things out a little. (This is a wholly unintentional result of the fields I read in being male-dominated.)

I will say that as a native San Francisco Bay Arean, the only place I've ever seen in my life that I'd ever consider worth leaving California for (and that says a lot) is NYC. My grandma grew up in Queens and I've seen Manhattan on flight layovers but I've never explored Brooklyn. One of these days....

More thoughts later.

Ago 19, 2012, 12:32pm

>57 Carmenere:: Great review, Lynda. It earned a thumb from me. I'm glad to say I agree that it is a timeless story. I read it in my youth and have been a little bit tenuous about this reread because I didn't want to be disappointed. I'm surprised at how much I remember, mostly about Johnny Nolan, a most charming and unforgettable character. I'm nearing the halfway point, and am enjoying it all over again.

Ago 19, 2012, 1:41pm

After discovering the dearth of female writers on my "finished" list, I conveniently found this group's read of ATBGIB. This book is not only written by a woman, but centers around women. The main character, Francie, grows from an introverted bookworm to an intelligent women interested in romance and college. The book follows her coming of age as her family changes for the better and for the worse. (I'm not putting any spoilers in.)

One thing I liked about this novel was Francie's sense of identity. By the end of the book, she knows who she is, even as everything about her is changing. The end of the novel leaves her on a transition point, where she has time to be nostalgic about life. This was the most touching part - it reminded me of all the changes and transitions in my life, which unlike Francie's were mostly sudden, unexpected, and with little time for nostalgic goodbyes. My other favorite parts were Francie's ruminations on writing and what it means to tell the truth, which seemed to come straight from the author's mouth. Smith has written a gem of a book that seems downright autobiographical. I'm sad to see it end.