Hello everyone. Jessica here, giving you my final book review for 2016. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year. I can't wait to see what everyone is reading in 2017!
This book was given to me in a Secret Santa gift exchange at work by a co-woker who had tried to get me to read this novel earlier in the year. Brooklyn follows the story of a young Irish woman named Eilis, who leaves Ireland for America in the hopes of getting a job and a degree in bookkeeping. With the help of the church, Eilis succeeds in this, while also falling in love with and developing a relationship with Tony, an American-Italian man, whom she secretly marries. When Eilis' sister suddenly passes away, Eilis returns to Ireland to be with her mother, and begins to have feelings for an Irish man named Jim.
This novel brings up the theme of duty both in the familial, personal, and romantic sense. It also allows for discussion in terms of what constitutes love. Could Eilis learn to love Jim if she stayed in Ireland and never moved to America? Would Eilis stay happily married to Tony if she never went back to Ireland? Will she ever be truly happy, always wondering "what-if"? And because of this, is it safe to say that Eilis truly loved neither?
While I enjoyed reading this novel, I wanted more. I wanted to see more of what happened between Eilis and Tony once Eilis returned to America. I also wanted to see Eilis' mother possibly visit America, or have Eilis suggest to her mother that she should visit and meet Tony. Toibin purposely leaves the ending vague, sort of mimicking the back and forth thoughts that Eilis has herself, not really knowing her own heart or her own path. Eilis is just moving forward in the direction of duty, even though duty pulls her in two different directions. For this reason, I am giving Brooklyn by Colm Toibin a For the Love of Dewey Rating of 3.5 coffee beans.