81 pages 2 hours read

Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1943

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Teacher Introduction

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

  • Genre: Fiction; coming-of-age
  • Originally Published: 1943
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile 810L; Grades 9 and up
  • Structure/Length: 5 parts; approximately 528 pages; approximately 14 hours, 55 minutes on audiobook
  • Protagonist/Central Conflict: The novel centers around Francie Nolan, a young girl growing up in the early 20th century in the slums of Brooklyn. She faces poverty, family struggles, and coming of age in a challenging environment. The central conflict revolves around Francie’s journey of self-discovery, education, and aspirations to rise above her circumstances. The novel beautifully portrays her resilience, determination, and the importance of her family’s love and support.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Poverty; mature themes; depiction of difficult family situations, substance abuse, and sexual violence

Betty Smith, Author

  • Bio: Born 1896; American author and playwright; grew up in poverty in Brooklyn, which heavily influenced her writing; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is her best-known work and draws from her own experiences; known for her empathetic portrayal of characters and their struggles; often explores themes of family, dreams, and the human spirit in her works; continued to write novels, short stories, and plays throughout her life; left a lasting impact on literature through her poignant and relatable storytelling
  • Other Works: Tomorrow Will Be Better (1947); Maggie-Now (1958); Joy in the Morning (1963)