Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt) Book Review

2016 Reading Challenge
46. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
      Topic/Theme: New York Times bestseller

“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”

So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy — exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling — does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.
Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank’s survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig’s head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.

My Review:
Frank's writing style was a little different from what I'm used to. It did take a little while to grasp that, but once I did, I came to appreciate it. It's a great narration of what it was like to grow up in a time of poverty and the additional challenges of dealing with the alcoholism of his father. Alcoholism is a disease. For Frank's father, it was his way of coping with deaths in the family, especially that of his daughter, among other troubles. It was interesting to read about what life was like in the 1930s and 40s in Ireland. Poverty can affect each and every country and everyone of all backgrounds. Just like the US has experienced the Great Depression and other economic crises, Ireland has also had its fair share of problems. It was such a good attribute of Frank's to be able to write so descriptively of those hard times. To be able to overcome those challenges was incredible. Anything is possible if you're willing to work hard and keep fighting through by not giving up.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!


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