A bildungsroman is a type of novel that tells a coming-of-age story, a story of education or growth. There are many, many examples of this type of novel, from the Harry Potter books to The Kite Runner. Brooklyn is a beautiful coming-of-age story about a young Irish immigrant who moves to New York. Eilis Lacey, the protagonist, leaves her small town in Ireland for America, and the book follows her as she chooses between her old home and her new one.
What I loved about this book is that it’s not romanticized in any way. These characters feel like they could be real people, and the author slowly draws you in to their world. This book is calm and quiet, and it reminded me a lot of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It has the same realistic feel, and it doesn’t sidestep any issues for the sake of romance or love. If you’ve ever experienced homesickness or loss, you will certainly identify with these characters. It’s a great story, and it’s told with so much detail that you can’t help feeling you know Eilis and the others by the end.
Sometimes the critics get their book reviews exactly right, so I wanted to share a few of the little snippets from the cover. I think they do a better job of describing this book than I could.
One of those magically quiet novels that sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations
There are no antagonists in this novel, no psychodramas, no angst. There is only the sound of a young woman slowly and deliberately stepping into herself, learning to make and stand behind her choices, finding herself.
Next on my to-do list is to watch the film version, which I believe is available now online and will be on DVD this week. If you haven’t seen the trailer, here it is!