Valerie Yow | Flyleaf Books | Page: Readings & Signings | Indy Week
This is a past event.

Valerie Yow 

When: Thu., Aug. 19, 7 p.m. 2010

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is a coming-of-age tale that is now 67 years old. What many readers may not know—especially considering the vivid scenes set in Brooklyn—is that Smith wrote her mostly autobiographical novel in North Carolina. Smith moved to Chapel Hill in 1936 and lived the rest of her life south of the Hudson River. Biographer and oral historian Valerie Yow demonstrates her sensitivity to the authenticity of her subject in the biography Betty Smith: Life of the Author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Yow, a Greensboro native, never interviewed Smith, but she spent seven years researching details of the author's early life and time in Chapel Hill and provides an analysis of how Smith became a writer, playwright and a sometimes notorious socialite.

Yow writes on her website: "When I was 12, I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Years later, in the 1990s, when I walked around Chapel Hill, I often passed a stately two-story house, set back from the street. It had a long front walk and a stone wall surrounding the yard. I was told this was once Betty Smith's house. I wondered how Betty Smith, known in town as a feisty Northern woman, ever got here." That curiosity fed Yow's desire to learn more and will encourage readers to delve into the story of Smith's life after A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.—Rebekah L. Cowell



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