Thursday, January 19, 2012

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

Basic plot

A story of a boy born in America but spent his childhood in extreme poverty in bleak, desolate Ireland with his poor mother, always drunk father and ever growing and depleting little siblings. During a time when a slice of bread was considered a luxury, baby brothers drank water with sugar and the whole lane traipses through your kitchen to dump their excrement in the one common toilet. Frank McCourt's daily life is merely a battle to survive, the dreaded consumption, thrashings from relatives who are angry when his family asks for scraps of food and a father with the Irish curse of drinking what little money he manages to earn. 

What I liked about this story

The author is truly a storyteller. He paints the harsh reality of poverty in Ireland with clarity, but even through the bleak desperation there is a touch of sombre humour. I chuckled and cried through the very same pages. With every page I read, I was so invested in the plight of Frank McCourt that I willed for his circumstances to change, for his father to change, for their lives to get better. Reading this book, I could not imagine how all those poor families survived. It made me appreciate my own life, and its many small comforts.

What I disliked about this story

Not much really. It took me quite a while, given my schedule, to finish reading. I found that I tended to speed read the many Irish songs and poems though. 

A quote I liked from the book

If I were in America I could say, I love you, Dad, the way they do in the films, but you can't say that in Limerick for fear you might be laughed at. You're allowed to say you love God and babies and horses that win but anything else is a softness in the head.

Rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to Siti for lending me this book as part of our Bookswap project.


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