With few opportunities for young women in postwar Ireland, soft-spoken Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) gets the chance of a lifetime. Her family arranges with a kindly Brooklyn priest (Jim Broadbent) for Eilis to move America to have a better chance at life.
Eilis jumps at the chance. Although she gets a room at a Brooklyn boarding house and a job at a swanky department store, Eilis struggles to find her place. That changes when she meets Tony (Emory Cohen), a handsome young Italian man with an infectious passion for life. When a family tragedy draws her back to Ireland, she's faced with a dilemma.