Sunday, November 27, 2016

Book Review: Angela's Ashes

Hey everyone! I hope all you Americans had a great Thanksgiving, and if you're not American that you have had a lovely thirteen days since my last post. As I said in my last book review, I am doing the Goodreads reading challenge, and I just finished book 26 of the 30 I want to read. It took me about three weeks to read my latest book because I have had just so much homework, and I have been very busy. The book I just finished was called Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“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.

Angela’s Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt’s astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.

My Thoughts:

I don't know if I would have picked this book out if I was just wondering through the bookshelves of a library because I usually go for fictional books. It's a very subconscious thing I do, but I almost always end up reading fiction, even if it's historical fiction. Both my parents read Angela's Ashes some time ago, so they recommended the book to me.

After having the book in my locker for about a month, I finally started reading it. You shouldn't go into this book expecting a super happy ending because the main character, Frank, has a rough life that gets way worse before it gets better. His family is in poverty, his father is an alcoholic, the mother doesn't have a job for the longest time because she takes care of the kids, and just his whole life is filled with struggle. For about 17 years of his life (from age 2-19 when the book takes place), the McCourts live in Limerick, the holiest city in Ireland. Since the book is written in Frank's point of view, there is much talk about nuns, brothers, priests, and how just about everything is a sin.

This book is a tough read because it's very far from my own life, so it took me awhile to remove myself from the present to fully absorb the book. I did, in fact, enjoy the book because there is a comedic spin to sad story. The book is a memoir, and Frank writes the way he thought when he was three years old, all the way to nineteen. The ending of the book is inspiring because it reminds me of how hard people worked to come to America in the 1940s and 1950s. The book contains a lot of vulgarity, especially from adults towards children, but that was what happened during that time period because of the whole children should be seen and not heard.

I do recommend this book for people who want a challenge, and also want to read the memoir of a child that grew up in poverty-stricken home. This book is very depressing, but it is and was the reality of many people in the world.

Some Favorite Quotes:

“He says, you have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it. If you won the Irish Sweepstakes and bought a house that needed furniture would you fill it with bits and pieces of rubbish? Your mind is your house and if you fill it with rubbish from the cinemas it will rot in your head. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” 

“I know that big people don't like questions from children. They can ask all the questions they like, How's school? Are you a good boy? Did you say your prayers? but if you ask them did they say their prayers you might be hit on the head.”

Questions: Have you read this book? What books are you currently reading/ recommend?

                                                            Christina Madeleine



  1. I've not read this one but the concept sounds quite interesting, I like that it isn't a 'hearts and flowers' type of book too. Thanks for sharing with #ReadWithMe

  2. I read this some years ago and found it a good read. It struck some cords for me as whilst my Irish heritage is quite distant, I am well versed in Irish culture having been to Catholic school.

  3. I read this many years ago and found it pretty disturbing. I also saw the film, which was possibly even more disturbing! It is good to read things like this from time to time to learn how other people lived in the not-too-distant past and to remember how lucky we are these days.
    Popping over from Read With Me.

  4. I have this book many moons ago. The subject makes it a difficult book to read for me and, knowing the story, I didn't watch the film. Hope you're reading something more cheerful next :-)

  5. Setting yourself a challenge and GoodReads is a great way to discover books. I've heard about this book before but never read it. #readwithme

  6. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on! I appreciated reading your perspective on this book.

  7. Nice post! I haven't read that book but I have heard a lot about it. It is scary to think that this was a reality for some people in Ireland and around the world.



Blog Design Created by pipdig