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Brooklyn by Colm Toibin: A book review

BrooklynBrooklyn by Colm Tóibín
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading Brooklyn by Colm Toibin feels like reading someone's biography. The story arc moves slowly spending quite some time in describing the day to day life of Eilis, it's central character. Anyone who has moved to another country, to a foreign world, who has been homesick and felt lonely will empathize with Eilis's various challenges and experiences. It takes time to build a new life in a new world, and this book lets you in on that, shows you how the said new life is built brick by brick, gradually.

Eilis keeps herself busy throughout the week during her first several months in the new country. This way she spends less time thinking about home. She joins night accounting classes at a local University. She gets used to her life. Gradually, she even starts to enjoy it, doing new things and letting herself be. She eventually falls in love and starts to dream about a beautiful future.

But, tragedy strikes back home and she has to go back, at least for a little while. And, it is here that the story becomes contrived. It is fine if the character suddenly starts falling for someone else and lets it happen, but to make excuses about it, that's plain hypocrisy. I immediately thought about Scarlett O' Hara of "Gone with the wind" when I was reading this part of the book. She is one of my favorite characters. She is not perfect, has shades of grey, but is a headstrong girl who knows what she wants. Scarlett does what she wants to do without a care for what anyone might think. Some might say she has no morals, but at least she never makes excuses. She never tries to act like miss goody two shoes. Eilis, on the other hand makes excuses for every single thing that she thinks is not right. This part of the book just made me angry. In my personal opinion, if you want to be disloyal to somebody, go for it, but don't try to justify it.

In the end, I don't know why this book was such a craze after all. It did start out well, but ended up being an ordinary love triangle. And so, I'd say that this was an ordinary chick lit wrapped in a classic, which is deceiving. And, in the end, you realize that you've been made a fool of by the author. Sorry folks, this ain't no classic.

-RS


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