"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith.

Essay by lunau_77High School, 12th gradeA+, May 2003

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This compelling, coming of age novel revolves around the Nolan family, which consists of Johnny, his wife Katie, and their two children, Francie and Neeley. Eventually, there is a third child, Annie Laurie. The family is close in spite of their home in the slums of Brooklyn and constantly fight poverty. In particular, the novel traces the growth and development of Francie from a little girl to a young insightful woman.

The novel begins with an explanation of Francie's outlook on the world around her. As a young girl of eight, Francie's life revolves around the neighborhood, particularly the candy store, the junkyard, the school, and the butcher's shop. Her keen interest in reading also takes her to the library every day, and she usually checks out one or two books. Despite Francie's father's drunkeness, he has a big heart, and genuinely love his family. Francie's mother is very practical, teaching her children the importance of saving money and education in one's life.

Despite Francie's surroundings, she is a gracious child with a love for knowledge. As a result, she has developed a wisdom beyond her young years, displayed in her actions. Although, she has several difficult experiences during the novel. She is forced to come to terms with death and dying when her father passes away; and she also has a horrible experience with a sex offender. Fortunately, neither of the incidents leaves her permanently scarred.

This story is filled with comedic incidents relating to Francie's aunts. Francie often turns to these two aunts when she is seeking answers to her questions. They are definitely contributors to her maturing process, which is closely followed throughout the novel. Ultimately, Francie is able to overcome the challenge of growing up in a poor, lower class neighbourhood.

Betty Smith, was born...