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Book Review

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt - Book Review

Title
Author
Publisher

Angela's Ashes
Frank McCourt
Flamingo

Fiction-Net Rating 4 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

Now a major motion picture from Paramount and Unversal. The number one best-seller winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Los Angelas Times Book Award and The Abbey Award.

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 reveals all we need to know about being human.

We Say

After hearing about Frank McCourt's biography, Angela's Ashes, I decided to see if it was worthy of all the rave reviews it was receiving. Fortunately, I was not sure what the book was about so I began reading with few expectations. I was impressed with McCourt's ability to remember his childhood experiences and reveal them through a young boy's eyes. I can see why so many felt that Frank McCourt's biography was so impressive.

While I wasn't completely overwhelmed or overly impressed, I did enjoy reading Angela's Ashes and I actually gained a greater insight of what growing up in Ireland might have been like. In the end, I felt that Angela's Ashes is not only about Frank McCourt's experiences growing up poor in Ireland, it is also a memoir of a young boy growing up with an alcoholic father.

Many of Frank McCourt's descriptions of growing up in Ireland were fascinating. Almost everyone living in the United States can lay some claim to knowing what it means to be Irish but so many of our perceptions are misguided by stereotypes and rumour. The news has been filled with the violence and discord plaguing Northern Ireland but I don't believe anyone really understands why there is so much conflict unless it is experienced first hand. Jokes are made about growing up Catholic and we all assume we know who to blame for a family's impoverished status. Angela's Ashes dispells some of the stereotypes and myths by providing one child's view of growing up Irish. Still, McCourt's childhood was really no different from the millions of other impoverished children in the world. He just wrote it down well.

As I was reading, I couldn't help but wonder what McCourt's childhood would have been like if his father had not been an alcoholic. His family probably wouldn't have returned to Ireland and his story wouldn't have been any different from the other Irish immigrants struggling to make a living in the United States. Perhaps the reason that so many were left with strong impressions after reading this memoir was due to the fact that Frank McCourt tells his story with humour and honesty.

Overall, I believe that Angela's Ashes is a testimony to a child's hope that his future will be better despite his circumstances. What can be seen as a biography of a young boy struggling to be the man he wants his father to be, can also be seen as a message of hope for all of those who find themselves in desperate situations.

Review by: Rachel Taylor

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