Brooklyn – Colm Tóibín
Fiction – Historical
Published May 5th 2009 by Scribner
All I can say is wow, and then shove this book in front of all of my friends and demand they read it. Fair warning if you are a crier this book will bring out all of the feels. I’m a total crier and had to hold in tears for most of the book. There was such a quiet sadness to it that no one moment ever made me bawl (okay maybe a few) but just the overall tone was beautiful and gut-wrenching and gah so much cuteness. Plus, this was great to read while I’m still on my historical fiction kick.
So what’s it about. Eilis Lacey leaves her small town in Ireland with the help of her older sister and a priest. She gets the opportunity for the possibility of a better life in America during the 1950’s. Eilis experiences home-sickness for the life and family she left behind but eventually falls into the swing of things, gets a job, and meets an adorable boy named Tony who lives with his large Italian family. During the day she works at a department store, and at night she attends night classes for bookkeeping. Just as she begins to feel comfortable with her new American life she has to return Ireland and her family and make a decision about her future.
I think what stuck out to me most, and what I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with is how sensible Eilis is when it comes to love. Yes, her and Tony’s relationship moves pretty fast but I think it’s a good portrayal of how relationships move for some people.
So, I am not an immigrant coming over to Ellis Island in the 1950s and leaving my family behind to experience the unknown, but I think the theme of where is your home can resonate with anyone. I chose to go to college in a place where I knew absolutely nobody. It was terrifying but it was also what I needed. Those first few weeks were awful and homesickness was a very real thing. I adjusted eventually and was still a little homesick but had friends and activities and life was pretty good. When I returned home at Christmas it was weird. Things didn’t change a lot but I was no longer a part of that, just as I had a new life my family couldn’t completely understand because they weren’t there. What I’m trying to say is when Eilis returns home and she loves being there but she also begins to miss New York because she has a life there that turned into her home without her realizing it. I think the examination of having two homes is portrayed beautifully in this novel and even if you aren’t the biggest romance fan (Tony doesn’t turn up until halfway through the book) it’s just a beautiful portrayal of a young-woman finding her way.
“Even though she let these thoughts run as fast as they would, she still stopped when her mind moved towards real fear or dread or, worse, towards the thought that she was going to lose this world for ever, that she would never have an ordinary day again in this ordinary place, that the rest of her life would be a struggle with the unfamiliar.”
Yes, and blah I need to go see movie but it’s not in a theater by me and I’m too lazy to drive so this is probably going to be a rental but I am so excited!