written by Colm Tóibín, published by Penguin genre novel, 252 pages
The first time I saw Colm Tóibín’s novel Brooklyn, I was looking into the books of a bookshop at Dublin Airport, while waiting for my plane to go back home. I was immediately drawn to the title, as only a few weeks earlier I had spend a couple of weeks in Brooklyn, celebrating Christmas and NYE with the man I was dating at the moment, a man who lives in Brooklyn.
The story in short
Brooklyn is a novel that follows the life of Eilis Lacey. The story takes off in Ireland in the 1950’s. Eilis, a young girl living with her mother and older sister Rose in the small town she grew up in, studies bookkeeping. Despite her excellent qualifications she cannot find a decent job and when her sister Rose arranges an opportunity for her to leave Ireland and go work and live in Brooklyn, Eilis knows that there’s no other option than to go.
For Eilis, who is leaving her home and family for the first time, crossing the ocean and moving to a big city on the other side of the world is a big adventure. Even though her new life is quite different from the life she had in Ireland and despite feeling homesick every now and then, Eilis starts to feel more at home as the months pass. And when she finds love with Tony, her future in America certainly begins to take shape.
Devastating news from Ireland forces her to go back home, where Eilis awaits an alternative path for the future. Thorn between two different lives and responsibilities, Eilis once more has to make a major decision; will she go back to Brooklyn or stay at home where new opportunities are rising…
Why you should read this book
I can only say that I loved this book from the moment I started reading it. Not only does it tell us the story of a young girl coming of age, dealing with new responsibilities and falling in love for the first time. It’s mostly the adventure of a life time, all the insecurities and opportunities that come with emigrating to the other side of the world, that makes this story so appealing.
Even though it is a short read, you get to know Eilis very well. And as the story moves on, you notice her changing from a unselfconscious young girl into a smart and confident young woman. The story is very moving and stays with you for a very long time.
*Picture in header is a still from the movie ‘Brooklyn’ based on this book, directed by John Crowly, released in 2015 by Fox Searchlight Pictures