The final leg of my journey took less than ten minutes. As the barge drew into my final port, Manhattan, my eyes strained into the sun as it glittered off a million windows, buildings that stretched up to the sky–yearning toward God Himself. This was a new world, a new life, a new beginning, and for the first time since leaving Ireland I felt intoxicated. My fear turned, finally, to excitement. I wished John was with me, but this was an adventure I would have to experience alone.I stepped of the boat onto the jetty at Pier A and then onto solid ground at last.Ireland was in my heart, but under my feet was America.
This is the story of Ellie, a girl who could have been one of many who left Ireland in the 1920s for the opportunities available in America. When her life-long love, and husband, was shot while with the IRA, there was no money for his surgery, no hope for his recovering the use of his leg. So Ellie bravely went to New York to live with her childhood friend, Sheila, as maids for a socialite. Ellie becomes accustomed to the bounty America has to offer, from lipstick and hooch, to delectable foods, to starched, crisp linen and electricity. Even more importantly, she has the wisdom to seek skills which will make her independent; she convinces Sheila to go to secretarial school, and she attends herself at the offer of Sheila’s fiance.
Yet all this time, Ellie is away from her husband, John. She doesn’t want to return to Ireland; he doesn’t want to come to America. It is a crossroads for her, where she must determine what she will make of her life. Should she continue to live in the luxury of America? Or, should she return to the small town in Ireland, without its everyday conveniences, but with her husband?
This is a light read which covered a myriad of difficult topics: how do we fulfill our dreams when they are at cross purposes with another? How do we make ourselves content with what we have? How do we stay loyal to our commitments? How can we overcome the past? I thoroughly enjoyed Ellie’s story, especially in the light of this July 4th holiday. Because while America has so much to offer, we find what we need most at home.