A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

$2.75 By Betty SmithHARPER
FRANCIE NOLAN was born in Brooklyn on December 15, 1901. Her father, Johnny Nolan, was a singing waiter when he worked, which was occasionally, and a well-loved singer of sweet songs even when he was sober, which was seldom. Francie’s mother, Katie Nolan, had black hair and brown eyes and was pretty and slight and vivid, and she scrubbed floors to feed and clothe her family. She was a Rommely before her marriage, and the Rommely women were strong and determined, just as the Nolan men were handsome and weak.
The story begins when Francie is eleven, makes a twelveyear jump backward in Books 2 and 3, and then catches up with itself. The really phenomenal amount of detail in the book sets it apart — the huge gallery of people, all individualized with a whole series of minor stories, and minute accounts of special occasions: New Year’s Day, Hallowe’en, Election Day, Christmas. Betty Smith says that you cannot become a Brooklynite — that you must be born one. But readers of her book will feel that they have missed little of the life of Brooklyn.