My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn is the simple story of a young Irish woman struggling to come of age after a major life change is more or less forced on her. It is believable and the characters are recognizable. Unfortunately, the third person narrative felt like watching the whole thing from above and at a great distance. It was entertaining at times but I never felt like I really got to know the main characters. Eilis’s character seemed to shift from scene to scene. It wasn’t like she grew as a person only adapted to any given situation (and not always well). I never really got a hold of who she was. So I didn’t really care about what happened to her. Or any of the characters.
What Toibin did well was paint the scene. I could picture perfectly every setting from the small Irish town to the streets of Brooklyn to the beach of Coney Island to the horrible ship journey. But that’s all the book was a rather two-dimensional look at Eilis’s coming of age.