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‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ celebrated with 75th anniversary edition

Brooklyn BookBeat

November 14, 2018 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Image courtesy of HarperCollins
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From the moment she entered the world, Francie needed to be made of stern stuff, for the often harsh life of Williamsburg demanded fortitude, precocity and strength of spirit.

Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior — such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce — no one, least of all Francie, could say that the Nolans’ life lacked drama.

By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking and uplifting, the Nolans’ daily experiences are tenderly threaded with family connectedness and raw with honesty. 

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Betty Smith has, in the pages of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” captured the joys of humble Williamsburg life — from “junk day” on Saturdays, when the children of Francie’s neighborhood traded their weekly take for pennies, to the special excitement of holidays, bringing cause for celebration and revelry.

Smith has artfully caught this sense of exciting life in a novel of childhood, replete with incredibly rich moments of universal experiences — a truly remarkable achievement for any writer.

In honor of the timeless novel, the Brooklyn Public Library’s Leonard branch in Williamsburg was last night designated a literary landmark.


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