By Colm Toibin
New York, Scribner, 2009. 262 pages. Fiction.
Set in 1950s, a young Irish girl, Eilis Lacey, is sent by her family to Brooklyn to seek an education and opportunities that she’d not be privileged to in her small Irish town. Though she’s not entirely keen on the move, and feels her older, more outgoing and adventurous sister might be better suited for the trip, she goes anyway. Eilis finds work in a storefront and enrolls in bookkeeping classes, and even meets a nice boy to spend time with. Things are going swimmingly for her, but as we know, it can’t always stay that way.
The descriptions in this book were so engaging, they had a way of making the seemingly ordinary, even mundane aspects of life seem vibrant and vivid. Since much of the narration comes by way of Eilis’ thoughts, it was easy to feel connected to her and to commiserate with her coming of age tale, as she experienced life in a new place, far from the familiar.
I was curious about this book as the movie adaptation was nominated for a 2016 Oscar. I’m glad I read the book first because I enjoyed it immensely. Now, to see if the adage “the book was better” holds up in this case as well.