What’s It About: Eilis Lacey, a young Irish adult (young adult sounds weird but that’s what she is… hmph) immigrates to Brooklyn to find work for her family. Meanwhile, she works at a historical department store, attends Brooklyn College (obligatory shout-out) and meets some Italian dude who like baseball. Then she has to figure out whether to go home or not, big whoop.
Why: Free book was free. Plus, Colm Toibin has been slightly on my radar ever since I saw him on a panel discussion of the future of (e)books. It was a terrible panel– the authors just talked about how antiquated they are with technology, how weird they feel texting, and how they have no opinion on ebooks. Waste of Youtube space.
Thoughts: So, in 8th grade (ish), my class had to write a fictional diary account as an immigrant coming to America. It had to be well-researched and all, with lots of creative license. Because it was easy, and perhaps eurocentric, I wrote as an Irish girl (whose sister just happened to be the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island).
This book felt a lot like that 8th grade research project. Lots of emotional family details, essentially predictable storyline, sprinkled with a lot of interesting, but not exactly gripping or essential, historical fact. What the book definitely does have going for it is a complex and well-rounded central character whose journey to womanhood has as much depth as any many other literary heroines (though not as much as Jane Eyre because Jane’s the boss of journeys into womanhood). Her decision at the end is genuine, as are her conflicting feelings about love, isolation, and family. See, I can be nice too.