With the newly released trailer (now over a month old) for the movie adaptation of Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín I decided now would be a great time to write a little bit about this spectacular novel. This is a novel about a young Irish woman, Eilis, who moves to Brooklyn in the 1920’s. She meets a boy and begins a life in America, but due to untimely events she must go back to Ireland for a short trip. While back at home she meets another boy and must choose between both the boys and also the futures they hold, thus completing the third point of the classic love triangle. I knew very little about the plot when I began this book (a reoccuring theme in my literary life recently) and was just so charmed by the characters and the world that I was transported to.
This book deals with homesickness, loneliness, and the weight your decisions can have on those you love. And boy did it hit home for me. As I have alluded to in a few posts, I just moved across the country from Michigan to Oregon. I have lived away from my family before, but this is the most indefinite move I’ve made thus far. While my move is not the same as changing countries, I found myself able to empathize with Eilis’s thoughts on loneliness and culture change in a very real, sometimes startling way. Eilis has many moments where she longs to share her daily life with her older sister Rose, but she either can’t bring herself to write the letter or she knows it wont mean the same as a conversation would. While I live in a far more technologically accessible world, I have faced that conflict often. I know that my life and the lives of those in my family, with whom I am close, are continuing as they did before I moved. But not being there for the little everyday moments is something I miss. It was so refreshing to read a novel where the main character was going through a level of homesickness that I can deeply identify with.
I read through this book in under a day. I was drawn to it not only because I really get Eilis’s longing for home, but because Colm Tóibín made the characters decisions realistic and understandable. I read a review on the dust jacket that claimed Tóibín was able to articulate the emotions of a young woman better than any man has before. This somewhat haughty remark made me hyperaware of Eilis’s decisions throughout the novel, and even with my excessive scrutinizing I wholeheartedly agree with the statement. He made a character that represents so many young women; a character who is respectful, caring, curious, and lively in the right company. Tóibín developed this character to a depth that makes me understand so many of her decisions.
Brooklyn does not romanticize the struggle of leaving home, but humanizes it. This book gives you a well developed character you can step into to understand the workings and decisions of a young mind. I could not be more excited for the movie to come out, I have complete faith in everyone involved. This is one of those trailers that I will watch everyday until it premieres. I mean, come on! All those little sideways smiles! Don’t they just make your heart sing?