My Favorite Reads – Angela’s Ashes

Alyce from At Home With Books features one of her favorite reads each Thursday and this week my pick is…

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.

From Frank McCourt’s haunting memoir takes on new life when the author reads from his Pulitzer Prize-winning book. Recounting scenes from his childhood in New York City and Limerick, Ireland, McCourt paints a brutal yet poignant picture of his early days when there was rarely enough food on the table, and boots and coats were a luxury. In a melodic Irish voice that often lends a gentle humor to the unimaginable, the author remembers his wayward yet adoring father who was forever drinking what little money the family had. He recounts the painful loss of his siblings to avoidable sickness and hunger, a proud mother reduced to begging for charity, and the stench of the sewage-strewn streets that ran outside the front door. As McCourt approaches adolescence, he discovers the shame of poverty and the beauty of Shakespeare, the mystery of sex and the unforgiving power of the Irish Catholic Church. This powerful and heart-rending testament to the resiliency and determination of youth is populated with memorable characters and moments, and McCourt’s interpretation of the narrative and the voices it contains will leave listeners laughing through their tears.

My thoughts: I don’t read memoirs.  To be honest, this is probably the only one I have ever read.  They aren’t part of my regular reading fare and I somehow don’t think that will change.  This particular book was recommended to me by a former co-worker about nine years ago and she actually lent me her book so I would read it.  She kept telling me how funny and sad the story was and I kept saying, “That’s great except I don’t read memoirs.”  Finally, I gave in and loved the book so much I bought my own copy.

It is funny, it’s also so sad that it did make me cry in places.  The poverty he experiences growing up, the hunger, the death, and the shame he feels for his family’s position are heart wrenching.  McCourt writes in such a way that even though you feel so hurt by his situation you also want to laugh because he found humor is so many little things in life.

If you don’t like memoirs, this would be an excellent starting point.  I can’t say it made me go out and buy another memoir but I found an appreciation for this genre in Frank McCourt’s story.


3 thoughts on “My Favorite Reads – Angela’s Ashes

  1. I love memoirs and this one is both good and sad. I remember being very angry when I read it, and not understanding how people can drink away all of the money that their families need for food. It still astonishes and angers me when I read other people’s similar stories. I understand that alcoholism is a disease, but drinking away the food money and watching your family starve seems so evil to me.

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