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Eilis’s pangs of homesickness are touchingly real and so is her struggle to reconcile different sets of social expectations: American openness and Irish respectability.

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Eilis is established at the outset as diligent, withdrawn, even slightly dull – an observer more than a participant in life; but also, you gather from others’ reactions to her, rather cleverer and more attractive than average.

Then, the opportunity arises of a job in America, arranged by a priest, Father Flood, with whom Rose has played golf.

I wanted to show that god-fearing folks steeped in old-fashioned values are just as susceptible to the effects of shifting sex ratios as cosmopolitan, hookup-happy 20-somethings who frequent Upper East Side wine bars. One of my web searches turned up a study from Trinity College’s American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) on the demographics of Mormons.

According to the ARIS study, there are now 150 Mormon women for every 100 Mormon men in the state of Utah—a 50 percent oversupply of women.

To Eilis, this seems wrong – a new life would suit her adventurous sister better; but she has no choice in the matter, or does not think she has.