Loyalty. Colm Toibin’s new novel, Brooklyn, presents the story of Eilis Lacey, who leaves the poor economy in Enniscorthy, Ireland, for the chance of a better life in Brooklyn. While many writers have presented stories like this in both fiction and non-fiction forms, Toibin does something special on the pages of Brooklyn. Toibin portrays Eilis in four major scenes: Enniscorthy, Brooklyn, Enniscorthy and her return to Brooklyn. In each part, Eilis strives to fit in and thrive, and she extends loyalty in many relationships. She’s torn between Ireland and America and between personal relationships in both places. Her struggle strikes deep emotional cords that are recognizable, and never sentimental or superficial. I came to care deeply about Eilis and her struggles, and wanted her to find what would be right for her to bring happiness to her life. Toibin’s writing is consistently fine: intense, descriptive, concise. If it is true that one can’t go home again, how does one create a new home and not feel like a foreigner who pines for a real home? Toibin allows Eilis to grow and mature on the pages of Brooklyn, providing a chance for readers to reflect on what loyalty means and how finding the right people and places makes a world of difference.
Rating: Three-star (Recommended)