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Angela's Ashes by Frank Mccourt
Angela's Ashes

A-nonymous, December 17, 2011

Angela’s Ashes is a book about struggle. It is a memoir of the many obstacles that Frank McCourt overcame during his childhood. Most of the story is set in Limerick, Ireland. The majority of the book takes place during the 1930s. Frank is the main character of the book, but his family members (including his parents and many siblings) are very important as well because of the roles they play in trying to survive. Frank’s family constantly struggles with their extreme poverty and barely gets by.

As a child Frank is well aware of his family’s poverty and he knows how hard things are for his mother especially. Frank does his best to help out the family. Frank works hard to find and keep jobs. When the family is especially desperate, he sometimes steals food, just so they can have something to eat. However, Frank also has a childish side to him, when he goes on adventures that the adults do not approve of. These adventures include taking apples from an orchard and being chased away by an angry farmer. Frank’s two-sidedness makes him interesting to read about and easy to relate to.

Frank’s mother is perhaps the character who suffers the most. In addition to her family’s extreme poverty she loses three of her children, all of whom died at a very young age. She cares a great deal about her children and is very persistent in her efforts to support them, doing everything she can to put food on the table. Frank’s mother gets all of the help that she can from her own mother and from Frank’s aunt. Although she doesn’t like it, she often has to beg for food and money because things are so desperate. Because of how hard Frank’s mother works and because of the extent of her suffering, it is very hard not to feel sorry for her.

Frank’s father is quite the opposite from his mother, as it is very difficult to feel sorry for him. Frank’s father is the reason for many of the family’s problems. He spends almost all of the family’s money on alcohol. He makes many promises to change, but he never does. Frank’s mother always gives him another chance, but each time he leaves her more and more discouraged and desperate.

McCourt’s writing style is interesting. He tells his stories based on what he remembers. When he does not remember everything, he makes up specific details that make his story seem more genuine and make it more interesting to read. He is always very honest about his thoughts and feelings. An example of this is shown in the following excerpt, where McCourt describes what was going through his mind, when he stole bread and lemonade to help his mother when she got sick. He writes “It’s wrong to steal from Kathleen with the way she’s always good to us but if I go in and ask her for bread she’ll be annoyed and tell me I’m ruining her morning cup of tea, which she’d like to have in peace ease and comfort thank you. It’s easier to stick the bread up under my jersey with the lemonade and promise to tell everything in confession.” McCourt’s honesty is refreshing as it makes his story seem much very personal.

Overall, Angela’s Ashes is a book that is worth reading. The combination of honesty, details, and fascinating life stories is very intriguing. This combination creates a book that achieves two goals: convincing readers that they are better off than they think, and giving people who are struggling hope of a better life. The book could be inspiring to a poor audience, and also engaging and interesting for other audiences. It can be appreciated by almost anyone.
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