Sunday, August 4, 2013

Book Review: Ellis Island, by Kate Kerrigan

I just finished reading Ellis Island, by Kate Kerrigan. Overall, I give it about 3.5 stars out of 5. Actually, if I were to rate the first half of the book, it would get a 2, and the 2nd half or last 1/3 gets a 4. It seemed to take forever to get into the story and really begin to care about the fate of the characters. About two thirds of the way through I really became interested and started to relate to Ellie Hogan's position between her rock and hard place.

The author does a wonderful job of describing the modern, fast-paced lifestyle in New York and contrasting it to the 'backward', country farm life in Ireland. Kerrigan was skillfully able to verbally paint pictures I could see in my mind and imagine myself living in. That was one of my favorite parts of reading this book.

The story itself follows Ellie from childhood in Ireland through her early romance and elopement with her childhood friend and sweetheart, to her journey to America to earn money for a surgery to repair her husband's war wound, through her adventures in New York and love of modern conveniences, art and beauty, and back to Ireland to face her fate of living out the rest of her life in a setting which she no longer feels a part of. About half way through the story I finally started to feel like I knew Ellie well and empathized with her for the enormous decisions she had to make that would affect the rest of her life and the lives of people she loved.

Would I recommend the book? Yes, definitely. The test for the answer to that question always lies in whether I came away feeling moved by the story, and in this case I most definitely did. 

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