A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Deep Dive

Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn became a bestseller largely due to its appeal to American troops during WWII. The heart wrenching saga of the Nolan family reminded soldiers of home with its vivid sense of time and place. The book also depicted a nuanced and inherently American version of values and success — a family pulling itself up by the bootstraps to climb out of poverty to a more middle class lifestyle. Interestingly, demand for books such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by American soldiers fueled the creation of a paperback market.

There was a lot of information to unpack in this book. Interested in learning a little more about tenements in New York? Check out this article from the New York City Department of Records. Perplexed by the politics and the references to Tammany? Check out this short history of Tammany Hall and impress your friends by dropping this obscure bit of trivia about Aaron Burr next time Hamilton comes up. Curious about how the images in your head while reading match up with the reality of the time? Learn about tenements and have a look at some of the digitized photographs from Francie’s era made available by the New York Public Library.

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These Books Made Me

These Books Made Me is a podcast about the literary heroines who shaped our childhoods. @PGCMLS