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Angela's Ashes

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Heather Whidden, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Heather Whidden)
Angela's Ashes is one of the most vivid memoir's I have read. It portrays the resilience of young children in severe poverty in the 1900's during World War. It is a daily slice of Irish life that portrays a variety of characters within a family; a story of despair, survival and hope.
The fact that Frank McCourt could recount his childhood with such detail shows tremendous character of heart and soul.
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(1 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
A-nonymous, December 17, 2011 (view all comments by A-nonymous)
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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SarahNicoleD, July 18, 2010 (view all comments by SarahNicoleD)
This is a great read. The story moves you and you tend to feel the helplessness the character Frank conveys. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who likes reading, period.
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anitaballerina, March 31, 2010 (view all comments by anitaballerina)
This is such a moving story. Mr. McCourt (God rest his soul) takes on a journey of his childhood in poverty stricken deperession era Limerick Ireland. The struggles he went through having to grow up very fast as his father was an alcoholic that didn't always come home and seeing the struggles his mother dealt with trying to keep a roof over her childrens head was simply captivating. It was a sad story and truly makes you rethink before you complain about how bad you have it. Mr. McCourt was truly a wonderful storyteller and a man who went through a lot.
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Stefan D, January 11, 2010 (view all comments by Stefan D)
The first thing that caught my eye about this book was the picture of the little boy looking cool leaning on the old broken down building. I picked it up and began reading and that it was about this man Frank's struggle in life and how he grew up. He is the oldest in his family, the McCourt family, and he was born in Boston during the Great Depression. His father was a heavy alcoholic but not as abusive as you would think an alcoholic would be and Frank called it "the disease", while his mother was a shy lady who tried to keep the family together. Over the next 5 years 4 new siblings were born Malachy, Oliver and Eugene, and a sister Margaret who died just a few weeks after birth. Following this tragedy the family moved back to Ireland where things got even worse and 2 new baby brothers were born Micheal and Alphie. They lived in the poorest group of houses with no road frequent floods and the whole neighborhood had to share 1 bathroom. The father didn't work much due to his drinking problem and when he did work he wasted the money on the bars including the welfare money.I know it sounds horrible and depressing but there many happy times because the family used sarcasm to make everyone happy. The father eventually left to a defense plant in England and was never seen again. When Frank got older he worked many jobs, one was a to work for a money lender and when the lender died Frank found the stash of money and took it to buy a ticket back to America and the rest is history.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780684842677
Author:
McCourt, Frank
Author:
McCourt
Author:
McCourt, Frank
Publisher:
Scribner Book Company
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Biography
Subject:
Genealogy
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Ethnic Cultures
Subject:
Irish americans
Subject:
Limerick
Subject:
Ethnic Cultures - General
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Family
Subject:
Irish Americans -- Biography.
Subject:
McCourt family
Subject:
Limerick (Limerick, Ireland)
Subject:
Biography-Ethnic Cultures
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Subject:
ireland, irish, immigrant, great depression, pulitzer, memoir, national book critics circle, book critics circle, family, family saga, colm toibin, toibin, stuyvesant high school, malaky mccourt, limerick, teacher man, tis, cuchulain, poverty, coming of a
Subject:
ireland, irish, immigrant, great depression, pulitzer, memoir, national book critics circle, book critics circle, family, family saga, colm toibin, toibin, stuyvesant high school, malaky mccourt, limerick, teacher man, tis, cuchulain, poverty, coming of a
Subject:
ireland, irish, immigrant, great depression, pulitzer, memoir, national book critics circle, book critics circle, family, family saga, colm toibin, toibin, stuyvesant high school, malaky mccourt, limerick, teacher man, tis, cuchulain, poverty, coming of a
Subject:
ireland, irish, immigrant, great depression, pulitzer, memoir, national book critics circle, book critics circle, family, family saga, colm toibin, toibin, stuyvesant high school, malaky mccourt, limerick, teacher man, tis, cuchulain, poverty, coming of a
Copyright:
Edition Description:
B102
Series Volume:
1
Publication Date:
May 1999
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 11.9 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Historical
Featured Titles » Pulitzer Prize Winners
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Featured Titles

Angela's Ashes Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9780684842677 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A classic modern memoir...stunning."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "A spellbinding memoir of childhood that swerves flawlessly between aching sadness and desperate humor...a work of lasting beauty."
"Review" by , "It is a wonder that McCourt survived his childhood in the slums of Depression-era Limerick, Ireland: three of his siblings did not, dying of minor illnesses complicated by near starvation. Even more astonishing is how generous of spirit he became and remains."
"Review" by , "A powerful, exquisitely written debut... An extraordinary work in every way. McCourt magically retrieves love, dignity, and humor from a childhood of hunger, loss, and pain."
"Review" by , "The power of this memoir is that it makes you believe the claim: that despite the rags and hunger and pain, love and strength do come out of misery — as well as a page-turner of a book. And though the experience it tells of was individual, the point — and the story — is universal."
"Review" by , "It is only the best storyteller who can so beguile his readers that he leaves them wanting more when he's done. With Angela's Ashes, McCourt proves himself one of the very best."
"Review" by , "This memoir is an instant classic of the genre...good enough to be the capstone of a distinguished writing career; let's hope it's only the beginning of Frank McCourt's."
"Review" by , "What is it that transforms a childhood blighted by poverty, death and disease into a story that shines with love and leaps off the page in language of rare energy, music and humor? In the case of Angela's Ashes, I think it must be Frank McCourt's soul. This memoir is the best I've read in years, and I'm putting it on the small shelf in the company of the few books I don't lend — lest they're gone when I want them again."
"Review" by , "Frank McCourt's lyrical Irish voice will draw comparisons to Joyce. It's that seductive, that hilarious."
"Review" by , "Frank McCourt has examined his ferocious childhood, walked around it, relived it, and with skill and care and generosity of heart, has transformed it into a triumphant work of art. This book will be read when all of us are gone."
"Synopsis" by , Angela’s Ashes, imbued on every page with the author’s astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic. “Frank McCourt’s life, and his searing telling of it, reveals all we need to know about being human” (The Detroit Free Press).
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