The Nolan family, originally from Ireland and Austria, are first-generation immigrants to the United States. Their life in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn is poor and deprived, but their sacrifices make it possible for their children to grow up in a land of boundless opportunity. Francie Nolan- alert, imaginative, and resourceful- is the eldest daughter of the family. Her journey through the first years of a century of profound change is difficult - and transformative. Despite the poverty and suffering, there is hope, and the prospect of a brighter future. Betty Smith's debut novel is universally regarded as a modern classic. The sprawling tale of an immigrant family in early 20th-century Brooklyn, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of the great distinctively American novels.