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October 6, 2009


Eilis is an Irish immigrant in Brooklyn in the 1950s who traveled to America rather suddenly and struggles to make a place, a life, and a home for herself there. At times during the first half of this book the prose is beautiful although uneventful, and you may find yourself wondering where the story is going to appear.

Then suddenly it does, and you’re compelled by the description of her inner thoughts and her surroundings, her emotions and her naivete. She falls in love with the very vanilla Tony, an Italian in Brooklyn, and they go about making a life together when sudden news forces her to return to Ireland. Once there, she is conflicted between two worlds she feels are both her home, and decisions she must make surrounding her future.

The entire novel leads up to the final three pages, and an swift ending that may leave you disconcerted and that is surely less than predictable. I closed the book feeling haunted, sullen, and somehow both disappointed and inspired—thinking about my own concept of “home” in new ways.

I was smoothly and easily manipulated with the subtle language of Colm Toibin, and recommend Brooklyn immediately [although I waited months for it on my library’s hold list]. It’s unlike a lot of other books you have surely read.

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