A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Book Review

There are some classic novels that I believe everyone should read at least once. A lot of us are introduced to them on school but some classics get left out. One classic novel that should be read by everyone is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith because it is just that good. Keep reading to find out why this novel is as is heralded as it is! 

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Summary

In the year 1912, 11-year-old Francie Nolan and her 10-year-old brother Cornelius try to make the most out of their struggle. They live in a Williamsburg tenement in Brooklyn with their parents Johnny and Katie. Johnny is an alcoholic who can’t hold a steady job so the family has to rely on Katie’s earnings from her job cleaning houses.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn book cover
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith book review

The Nolans are poor and we see the children use their imagination and whatever else they can manage to get their hands on to escape their situation. And as life happens around them, we see how their lives and futures are affected by where they live and money situation.

The novel breaks into four parts the Nolans throughout the years. Without spoiling much, I will say the rest of the story will leave you in awe and definitely stay with you for years.


I remember reading this novel for the first time and being moved by the scene with the candy store. Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a semi-autobiography and that is why the stories pop out. They are real life experiences and her retelling it decades later tells you how some things never really leave you.

Now we know how much impact living where you live has through a lot of research. But when Smith wrote this novel in 1943, that was not something people put together. And yet Smith was able to write one of the most iconic novels of all time.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Kindle version

This is a beautiful coming to age novel that confronts a lot of trauma and what it means to persevere. Betty is a prime example of overcoming the odds and achieving the American dream and then some. 


Some novels you have to read throughout the years and this is definitely one of them. That will be a great future article to write. I have a bunch of books that I can name off the top of my head that I do reread often. If you haven’t read this novel then you are missing definitelymissing out!

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10 thoughts on “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Book Review

  1. Adelaide Dupont says:

    Hi Ahaqir,

    thanks for your A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN REVIEW.

    I first learnt about the book some 30 years ago now from another author [one of the standard texts the students read].

    A blogger interested me in it some 5 years ago.

    Thank you again!

    I especially appreciated the sociological approach your review had taken and how it is different then and now.


  2. Marsha says:

    Thanks for sharing this. There’s a new challenge out called What’s on your bookshelf. You might enjoy linking some of your posts to that challenge.

  3. Alice says:

    I love this book. First time I read it I actually wanted to try the stale, old bread recipe.


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