Francie Nolan – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
I know now why I told you so many lies, Mother. I wanted you to notice me.
Born in 1896, Betty Smith’s coming of age took place among the chatotic, colorful Brooklyn of her best-loved novels. Acclaimed for her work as a playwright in addition to her work in books and magazines, Betty died in 1972.
For Book Clubs:
1. Betty Smith goes to great lengths to describe the meeting and courtship of Francie’s parents, Katie and Johnny Nolan. Why? How does this description inform the rest of the book?
2. What ties bind Katie and Francie? What ties alienate them?
3. Betty Smith worked for the Federal Theater Project and other WPA/New Deal agencies during the 1930s. How is her work on behalf of the working-class poor reflected in her novel?
4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn can be characterized as a coming-of-age novel. Pinpoint a particular moment or moments at which Francie “comes of age.”
5. “How wonderful was Brooklyn, she thought…” Brooklyn is as much a character of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as the Nolans. Discuss its role as a family member in the novel.