Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this book, but was disappointed by the ending and lowered my rating for that reason. There's no resolution to the only real conflict in the book. Eilis makes a decision and starts out on that path, but she's changed her mind before and might change it again. Also, we only get a chance to see how one person reacts to her decision and that reaction is both strange and limited. I skimmed through a few other reviews and discovered that there are people who enjoy a story that leaves its readers up in the air, but when so much is left to tell, I'm a reader who feels cheated.
Brooklyn is all about one character, Eilis, and all written from her point of view. She was born and raised in Ireland, but when she is a young woman she travels to America to find opportunity. Eilis draws conclusions about other people she knows, but often finds that her assumptions are wrong. Other reviewers have called Eilis spineless and it is true that she doesn't like to make her own life choices. Still, I would call her too nice for her own good rather than weak. She reminded me of Ado Annie from Oklahoma!, a girl “who cain't say no.”
I liked the focus on relationships in Colm Toibin's writing and the careful portrayal of Eilis' feelings, such as her homesickness and her jealousy of her sister. It's a beautiful picture of a young woman's life.
Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions
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