By Heather A.
4 out of 5 stars ★★★★☆
Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America — to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood “just like Ireland” — she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.
Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.
I could definitely relate to Eilis’s “fish-out-of-water” story. And overall, I gave the high star rating because there were many things about moving to a new city that I could relate to. Plus, the ending felt really satisfying for me.
There was not as much conflict as their could have been (or the author decided to downplay any potential conflict), I found the narrative moved quickly and keep my interest. For example:
Conflict: Eilis’s family decides she should move to America because she’s got nothing going for her in Ireland.
Resolution: Eilis goes to America–she does not protest this decision.
Conflict: In the first major action scene, Eilis suffers from seasickness in her bunk on the ship to America.
Resolution: Her bunk mate takes care of her and at the end of the journey gives her some makeup. Eilis accepts this care from a relative stranger.
Conflict: Eilis is home sick.
Resolution: Father Flood (her sponsor for helping her get settled in Brooklyn) registers her for accounting classes and pays for the tuition.
Conflict: Eilis gets the big bedroom in the basement of her boarding house and her roommates are mad at her.
Resolution: They are snarky at first, but then leave her alone.
I feel like I could go on and on about the conflicts Eilis is presented with and how they continually fell flat for me. Eilis is very passive in all the action that happens around her. I find that to be the most frustrating part about reading this book. How can Eilis just sit back and accept the things that are happening around her? How can she not defend herself? How does she not know if she’s falling in love?
Overall, I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction. I think I am overly critical because I prefer books that are more plot driven. Let me know your thoughts!