Angela's Ashes

Frank McCourt

Summary....

Angela's Ashes is a memoir about a poor boy named Frank McCourt growing up in an Irish Catholic family with an alcoholic father and a mother who just can't stop having babies. He starts out in America and his family moves back to Ireland, ironically to escape poverty. Frank recalls his childhood up till he's 19 in this humorous yet sad story. To the Right is a picture of the book cover.

Book Rating....

My rating of the book would probably be a 4.5 or a 5 out of 5, because it was a really enjoyable read. McCourts writing style is very interesting and has a way of not getting boring or stuck in one section for too long. People who like books that involve real people, real history, and real struggles would enjoy this book and all it has to offer. Some critics say....


"A spellbinding memoir of childhood that swerves flawlessly between aching sadness and desperate humor... a work of lasting beauty." -- Peter Finn, The Philadelphia Inquirer


"A splendid memoir, both funny and forgiving." --People


"Every once in a while, a lucky reader comes across a book that makes an indelible impression, a book you immediately want to share with everyone around you.... Frank McCourt's life, and his searing telling of it, reveal all we need to know about being human." --Linnea Lannon, Detroit Free Press

Author's Purpose....

I think the authors purpose for writing this book was to entertain the reader, but also to inform them of the struggles people face. The quote below is an example of how McCourt shows this.
"There's a lovely smell from the dinner can, boiled bacon and cabbage and two big floury white potatoes. Surely he won't notice if I try half a potato. He won't complain to Grandma because he hardly ever talks outside of a snuffle or two. It's better if I eat the other half potato so that he won't be asking why he got a half. I might as well try the bacon and cabbage too and if I eat the other potato he'll surly think she didn't send one at all. The the second potato melts in my mouth and I'll have to try another bit of cabbage, another morsel of bacon. There isn't much left now and he'll be very suspicious so I might as well finish off the rest. What am i going to do now? Grandma will destroy me, Mam will keep me in for a year. Bill Galvin will bury me in lime." (pg 136-137).
While the quote is humorous because Frank is doing the classic 'oh just one more wouldn't hurt' bit it's also quite sad because he's just so hungry he couldn't help himself and he ended up stealing from his grandma and is freaking out about the consequences.

A: Growing up in poverty....

One concept addressed in this book is living in poverty and how it affects you and others your care about. Frank experienced many hard ships such as the loss of his siblings. He also went hungry a lot and they moved houses quite a bit because there were too many sad memories after a while in each one. Frank pulled through though, and still managed to enjoy his time in Limerick and eventually save up enough money to go back to America.

B: living with someone who's an alcoholic....

Another concept addressed in this book is living with someone who's an alcoholic. Franks' father, Malachy, was an alcoholic and often drank all of the minimal wages he earned to feed, dress, and shelter his family. As a result growing up was even harder. Malachy would often come home late and get the boys up to proclaim their loyalty to Ireland for a penny he never gave them. They'd be so tired the next day they didn't even want to go to school.

C: solving your own problems....

The last concept addressed in this book is solving your own problems. Frank was unhappy in his situation, as most would be I'd assume, so rather than sulk about it all the time he saves up his money and gets out of there.

Impressionable chapter....

I felt that chapter 19 was interesting in the sense that it was only word, "'tis." (pg 363). It was a response to the question asked by the Wireless Officer in previous chapter when he said, "Isn't this a great country altogether?" (pg 362). I read Franks' response and I felt it was the word to sum up all he's worked and struggled for to get here. He's like yup, I'm finally here and it's beautiful.

Meaningful quotes....

#1

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived 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." (pg 11).


This quote was the second paragraph on the very first page and I chose it because it set up the story a little bit. You get a sense of what you're about to read and you get a sense of Frank. While he is being serious about the miserable part, as your reading it you get a sense a whimsy.


#2

"I know Oliver is dead and Malachy knows Oliver is dead but Eugene is too small to know anything." (pg 81).


This quote is about maybe a third of the way into the story while their in Ireland. Oliver and Eugene are Franks young twin brothers, maybe 2 or 3 years old. I chose this quote because it's so sad. First of all Oliver dies and then second, Eugene has no idea where he is, or whats going on, and keeps asking for him. Also, Franks maybe 6 and Malachy is maybe 4 and they know whats going on, which is way to young- they've experienced too much too soon.

Connection with another book....

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

This book is similar to another book I read called The Glass Castle. They both were about growing up with families that are dirt poor, full of children, alcoholic fathers who spend all the money when they rarely get it, and surviving this. While in Angela's Ashes Franks mom Angela would often get mad and his dad Malachy and yell at him but, in The Glass Castle the mom Rosemary goes with what ever the dad Rex says, causing lots of problems. Frank and Jeannette both get away from their less than amiable situations and make something of themselves and write a book having to do with it.