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Angela's Ashes: A Memoir

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

27 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

Angela's Ashes: A Truly Compelling Tale

Angela's Ashes is a compelling and inspiring memoir that gives the reader insight on the life of a poverty stricken Irish boy, Frank McCourt, and his family during WWII. McCourt's writing style draws the reader into his tale and creates pictures from his words that make...
Angela's Ashes is a compelling and inspiring memoir that gives the reader insight on the life of a poverty stricken Irish boy, Frank McCourt, and his family during WWII. McCourt's writing style draws the reader into his tale and creates pictures from his words that make readers seem like they are actually there. The memoir begins in New York in a small cramped apartment where McCourt lived for the first four years of his life. His parents had come to America with the hopes of living the American Dream, but instead their family encountered a struggle for food, clothing, and money. After enduring the hardships of America, the McCourt family decided to move back to Ireland in the hopes of finding a better life back in their homeland; however they again did not succeed in creating a better life for themselves. Despite the promises made by Frank's father to bring home money for his family, his alcoholic father continued to spend all of his paycheck on "the pint" leaving no money left over for his family. This left Frank and the rest of his family to fend for themselves in anyway they could. Frank's mother would beg the church for money, and Frank and his siblings would steal whatever food they could. They lived in tattered clothing and a worn down house, with hardly any food. Frank also endured hardships within school and his church. His teachers constantly called him stupid, beat him, and shot him down because of his ranking within society. However, Frank does finish school, proving his intelligence. Frank's school and church had consistently told that he has to die for God just as Jesus Christ died for our sins, however his father continuously tells Frank and his siblings to die for Ireland because it is the only worthy thing to die for. Frank becomes confused about life because he was never taught that there was anything to live for. After his father leaves for England to find work, Frank realizes that he must live to provide for his family and make a better life for himself and do more than what people expect from him. In his memoir, McCourt points out, "People everywhere brag and whimper about the woes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests; bullying schoolmasters; the English and the terrible things they did to us for eight hundred long years" (McCourt11). Despite all of these hardships and obstacles, McCourt endures and learns to overcome the challenges that life throws at him. Angela's Ashes is a truly inspirational story full of perseverance, determination, and most of all, hope for the future. It teaches the reader to appreciate what they have and recognize the hardships that others must face. McCourt's writing style engages the reader in the tale and allows them to feel the same sadness, humor, joy, and anger that Frank McCourt felt throughout his childhood. Frank McCourt's story is a emotional rollercoaster, and in the end, it is well worth the ride.

posted by Ellen13 on January 10, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

You need the stomach for it!!!

The book seemed sick at some points. You really need he stomach for it. I recogment reading the book before the movie

posted by Anonymous on July 8, 2003

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  • Posted January 10, 2010

    Angela's Ashes: A Truly Compelling Tale

    Angela's Ashes is a compelling and inspiring memoir that gives the reader insight on the life of a poverty stricken Irish boy, Frank McCourt, and his family during WWII. McCourt's writing style draws the reader into his tale and creates pictures from his words that make readers seem like they are actually there. The memoir begins in New York in a small cramped apartment where McCourt lived for the first four years of his life. His parents had come to America with the hopes of living the American Dream, but instead their family encountered a struggle for food, clothing, and money. After enduring the hardships of America, the McCourt family decided to move back to Ireland in the hopes of finding a better life back in their homeland; however they again did not succeed in creating a better life for themselves. Despite the promises made by Frank's father to bring home money for his family, his alcoholic father continued to spend all of his paycheck on "the pint" leaving no money left over for his family. This left Frank and the rest of his family to fend for themselves in anyway they could. Frank's mother would beg the church for money, and Frank and his siblings would steal whatever food they could. They lived in tattered clothing and a worn down house, with hardly any food. Frank also endured hardships within school and his church. His teachers constantly called him stupid, beat him, and shot him down because of his ranking within society. However, Frank does finish school, proving his intelligence. Frank's school and church had consistently told that he has to die for God just as Jesus Christ died for our sins, however his father continuously tells Frank and his siblings to die for Ireland because it is the only worthy thing to die for. Frank becomes confused about life because he was never taught that there was anything to live for. After his father leaves for England to find work, Frank realizes that he must live to provide for his family and make a better life for himself and do more than what people expect from him. In his memoir, McCourt points out, "People everywhere brag and whimper about the woes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests; bullying schoolmasters; the English and the terrible things they did to us for eight hundred long years" (McCourt11). Despite all of these hardships and obstacles, McCourt endures and learns to overcome the challenges that life throws at him. Angela's Ashes is a truly inspirational story full of perseverance, determination, and most of all, hope for the future. It teaches the reader to appreciate what they have and recognize the hardships that others must face. McCourt's writing style engages the reader in the tale and allows them to feel the same sadness, humor, joy, and anger that Frank McCourt felt throughout his childhood. Frank McCourt's story is a emotional rollercoaster, and in the end, it is well worth the ride.

    27 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Makes you realize how easy you have it

    Wonderful, wonderful wonderful but not something to brighten your day. It made me realize how easy I had it growing up.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Angela's Ashes: Engaging, Persuasive and Rousing!!!

    Angela's Ashes is a stunning and compelling memoir of times bygone. Frank McCourt has weaved a gossamer, a time travel through the early nineteenth century Ireland. This book will give you goose bumps and it will feel like you are essentially there. The story begins when McCourt is only four years old and living in sheer poverty. The McCourt family returns to Ireland, to make life better. This effort fails. Frank's father now moves to England in search of work. His determination is noteworthy. Frank's family doesn't think much of him and on the other hand his teachers tell him to lay down his life for God. Frank's dad wants him to lay down his life for Ireland. At this point Frank is truly confused about life. Frank ultimately finds his way through life and decides to live for his family- giving true meaning to the saying, "Charity begins at home." The negative remarks from his teachers only strengthen Frank's Irish determination to be successful in life. He eventually does so, providing for his family. He proves everyone wrong by being successful. Many young boys can identify themselves with Frank's life. This book is very appealing. It is easy to slip into McCourt's shoes and identify yourself with him. If you want to step back in time and live the life of a young Irish boy with World War II as a backdrop, this is the book for you!

    The social power over a citizen's life is vividly portrayed in this book. Frank is a prime example of how a foolish society can bring you down and dispossess you of further education based on how you dress and your social class. The society can drag down your sense of worth and self- confidence, as they did to Frank time and again. Poor Frank is overwhelmed with hunger throughout his early life. His family never had enough food to eat. Frank's father is an alcoholic and spends the little money he earns on alcohol! He talks about being faithful to Ireland all day long and yet he is not faithful to his family. Frank's hunger is both physical and emotional. He is also self- respecting and would never beg.

    I liked this book a lot! It is adventurous as well as an eye opener. It opens our eyes to the multi facets of life. Sometimes we get so used to and comfortable with our own way life living that we tend to overlook the different circumstances under which people live around the world.

    This book is a must read! I promise that you will not realize the full impact of this memoir until you have read and assimilated this! If you like Angela's Ashes you will love 'Tis: A Memoir' by the same author. I give this Pulitzer Prize winning book a ten out of ten.

    I believe the crux of this memoir is represented by, "When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived 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."
    (McCourt 11) This passage is found in the beginning of the memoir and it is here that McCourt expresses his opinion of how unhappy his childhood was and how he had to fight through the conflicting values of church and family. These values were imposed on him and he was left all alone, figuratively to determine which path must he chose in life. From this point on the book is simply McCourt's depiction of his life. He does this without expressing any personal opinion.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Touching and Fantastic. The novel Angela¿s Ashes by Frank McCour

    Touching and Fantastic. The novel Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt centers around the author’s life as a child and young man, dealing with such problems as heartbreak, alcoholism, and poverty. Throughout the book, events occur in Frank’s life that bring many hardships, but Frank sets goals for the future and remains hopeful. This book includes references of his family being Irish, moving from place to place, World War II, and relationships, and reflects how hard life really is for some people. I strongly recommend adults and teenagers to read this book because of my strong experience with reading it. Although almost the entire book was sad, the character development and emotion you walk away with is just incredible. Something I really enjoyed about this novel was the adventure carried throughout by Frank and his family page to page and that Frank never begged and was very self-respected and independent. On the other hand, my only disappointment was how painful it was to read and become a part of; the feeling of being in Frank’s shoes doesn’t have a point of relief or comfort in my opinion. Sensitive people like me, whom may shed many tears on their book, should absolutely still read this book; it is an eye-opener. Some of the many messages conveyed through the words of McCourt is honesty about struggle and being hopeful, thankful, and strong as well as how it feels to be very poor. For me, the themes of hunger and storytelling stood most outward during my read, and gave me a reality-check on how simple and carefree my life was and is growing up not in a broken or poor house. The author did a stupendous job of putting the reader in his shoes, and I overall rate this book five out of five stars.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    Angela's Ashes: Entertaining, Compelling and Inspirational

    Angela's Ashes is a compelling and inspiring memoir that tugs at the heartstrings and stretches one's perception of life during WWII. Frank McCourt's unique writing style takes the reader on a journey through 1930's and 40's Ireland to the point that they would almost believe that they lived it themselves. This journey starts through the eyes of McCourt as a boy of only four years. Life for he and his family is not what they thought it would be in the 'Land of the Free' where every man has "...a new suit and fat on his bones...and a lovely girl with white teeth hangin' from his arm" (McCourt 358). Instead times are tough and money is scarce as is food and clothing. Because of this the McCourts decided to return to Ireland with the hope that they will be able to make a better life for themselves. Unfortunately, this is not the case. McCourt's father sees no light at the end of the financial tunnel that his family is stuck in, so he only sees fit to spend the money that he earns from the various jobs that he holds on "the pint." His job search eventually takes him to England, and Frank is left to take care of his family into his late teens.
    The unrelenting theme throughout the book is perseverance. Frank is constantly bombarded by his peers and his family with disgusted looks and solemn shakes of the head that say "He's never going to go anywhere in life." On top of this, Frank and his peers are told what is worthy to die for. His school teacher is always telling him to die for God just as Jesus Christ died for 'our sins.' Frank's father is always telling his boys to die for Ireland, for that is the only true cause worth dying for. Through all this encouragement of honorable deaths, Frank finally wonders "Is there anyone who would like us to live?" (McCourt 113). To his amazement, he can find virtually no one who would say "Live for Ireland" or "Live in God's graces" but still he chooses to become a "real" man and live to save his family. Death is not the only thing that is preached in Frank's school. Because of Frank's ragged appearance he laments that "The masters keep telling us we're an idiot" (McCourt 151). This constant badgering only encourages Frank to make something out of the nothing that he has been given. He eventually finishes school and then successfully becomes the provider for his broken and decrepit family. Through his perseverance, Frank is able to make something out of the ruins of his life so that he may not become what society has predetermined his life to be.
    While many memoirs can be dry by nature, Angela's Ashes is refreshingly engaging. McCourt's first person writing style draws the reader deep into his personal experiences and feelings. Passages will tug at the heartstrings and fill the heart with endearment as the words seem to jump out of the page to create an eerily personalized experience for the reader that was his former life. McCourt's writing style is simple yet elegant as he describes his experiences in a straightforward and sophisticated manor. This style allows for the reader to feel as though they are in McCourt's "train of thought" instead of just reading words on a page. For readers who are looking for a reading experience that is only one small step from actually living the history of the book, Angela's Ashes is a round trip ticket to a whole range of emotions and adventure.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2006

    Audiobook is the best ever

    The author not only reads his story, he sings. This book made me cry, I mean sob. This is a must read for every person on the planet. But I especially recommend the audio because the author is mesmerizing. This audiobook will make the person that doesn't enjoy reading want to start reading. If you have burnt yourself out on reading, or know someone that has, this is the book for you. Remember the audiobook is worth the extra money.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2009

    The most depressing book I have ever read!

    Just to think, my great grand parents came from Limmerick! Thank God they did! I found this book depressing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2014

    One of my favorite books ever. I bought his entire set!

    One of my favorite books ever. I bought his entire set!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Angela¿s Ashes is a memoir about Frank McCourt¿s childhood and h

    Angela’s Ashes is a memoir about Frank McCourt’s childhood and how his mother struggles to take care of her four children despite her husband’s drinking addiction. Throughout the story, the McCourts face a numerous amount of hardships, including the death of Frank’s three siblings. Although Frank’s family is remarkably poverty-stricken, Frank still strives to get a good education to be successful. For example, “I don’t know what it means and I don’t care because it’s Shakespeare and it’s like having jewels in my mouth when I say the words.” Portrays that even though Frank might not understand the text, he still loves to learn and devour literature. Throughout the book, the author portrays that you can do anything if you put your mind to it and never give up, no matter how unfortunate your situation is. For example, “You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” Displays the perfect example to describe how Frank lived his life. He didn’t have much at all but yet still kept his mind filled with knowledge.
    I like how the author’s writing style is a familiar tone. He writes as if he’s directly speaking to you as if he’s directly speaking to you which makes it easier to understand and connect with the story. “Mam tells us, that’s the Baby Jesus, the infant of Prague, and if ye ever need anything to pray to Him.” By writing with this tone, you feel like you are sitting right by the author in the story. I also enjoyed how the beginning of the story portrays the author in a youthful and naïve fashion, as the story progresses, he becomes more aware of things. For example, in the beginning of the story Frank and his friends would tease girls and call them names. As the story goes on, Frank ends up falling for a girl named Theresa Carmody and develops a physical relationship with her. A thing that I disliked in the story was how Frank’s grandmother and aunt would look down upon Frank because his father was from the north. For example, “ I don’t want nothing that’s half Limerick and half North of Ireland […]” displays the opposition towards Franks and his siblings. I highly recommend this book because it makes you appreciate the things that you have in your life a little more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2013

    ASHCLAN MEDICNE CAT DEN

    You stand before a large tall thick pine tree, as you crawl under the tree it leads to a much bigger den. Among the cracks and roots of the wall herbs lay for storage. Three thick moss nest line the wall, a small waterfall and pool of water are near the entrance for easy passage so the sick cats can get water.

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  • Posted July 29, 2013

    A beautifully written story that I will not soon forget. I high

    A beautifully written story that I will not soon forget. I highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2013

    If you lived in poverty and had to steal food how would you feel

    If you lived in poverty and had to steal food how would you feel?
    That's what Frank had to do multiple times in the book Angela's Ashes by
    Frank McCourt. This memoir is about a young boy going back to Limerick, Ireland.
    It explains the young adventures of being a child and growing up with a
    father who spends all the money on alcohol.
    Frank's family is poor because of that reason.
    Many people die sadly either because of diseases or other problems such as
    old age. I personally enjoyed it because I felt like I was a character in the book.
    Every time I would pick up the book, I would see Frank and his family in a room
     or waiting for his father to come home. It is an amazing book that shows life
     from a child's view. It shows suffering of children and families who are poor
    and less  fortunate than others. I would recommend this for men, women,
    and you adults of both sexes.All who read this book will be full of sorrow, grief,
    and love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2013

    Loved reading this book

    I just loved the way the words in this story just flowed as a melody in a song. The way That Frank McCourt was able to retell his life as a child growing up in such a desperate period of time in Ireland was most impressive. He took an awful situation and retold it in such a cute way that I was just sucked in and couldn't wait until I had time to read again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2013

    Great book

    One of the best books i have ever read. I loved it so much i gave a copy to my mom and my daughter they both loved it.


    J.M.

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  • Posted April 28, 2013

    i read this book years ago and still love it today<3

    i read this book years ago and still love it today&lt;3

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2013

    Must read!!

    One of the best books I've read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    Great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2013

    I ached for him many time for the horrors he was exposed to from

    I ached for him many time for the horrors he was exposed to from his Catholic upbringing, even though I was married in the Catholic church. For instance when he wanted to pray at a very traumatic point in his childhood, but didn't have a coin to buy a candle. How awful that unBiblical practice is! But, it was laughable when he threw up the communion wafer and since he was taught it literally turned into Jesus' actual body, they didn't know if it was okay to clean up the vomit!  Also, when he was afraid of the abuse by the Catholic priest, it broke my heart.
    It's no wonder that today, Ireland was the first country to shut down the Vatican's embassy. Many were shocked that Ireland is where this has started because for centuries, you couldn't say Irish without thinking Catholic. (To see Dublin's TV News report about this, Google: Ireland in Row Over Catholic Church, YouTube--The announcement comes on right after a brief scathing comment from Parliament.)
    I communicate by email with a woman from a small village in Ireland who left the Catholic church to become one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and because her children were the only ones not to participate in confirmation, the priest held such power that he visited the hotel where her husband worked as a manager and warned the owner that if his manager didn't get his wife back to the Catholic church, he would ensure that their hotel didn't get any more business--and he could do it, too. (She told me that it was uncovered that 57 of the priests from Ireland who had been moved around to other parishes rather than being prosecuted after molesting and raping dozens of children, were sent to the U.S.A. to be priests here, so we should beware.)
    She said Angela's Ashes only touches on the awful truth. There were also forced slavery from unwed mothers to work in laundries and suffer abuse by nuns that has come out, too. (To watch a movie about that, see: The Magdalene Sisters available on Amazon.) Being poor, if you went against the Catholic church in Ireland in times past, you would often go hungry, the priests held so much power and control over you which was abusive, according to my email pen-pal.
    Back to the book, it's very good and so much better than the movie. I was disappointed in the movie after reading the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    Frank macourt

    Amazing book probebly the best yet, so amazing how Frank lived ,sucks that he died.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    Angela's Ashes was written in the eyes on a boy named Frank, a

    Angela's Ashes was written in the eyes on a boy named Frank, also known as Frankie, McCourt. This book is a true memoir of a boy who was born in New York, and is moved to his parents homeland of Ireland. In the begginning of the book Frank is the eldest, then there is Malachy Jr, the twins Eugene, and Oliver. Thier mother’s name is Angela and she is the typical Irish women. She waits opn her childs every need, though she does not depend on her husband for money. Because, Malachy Sr. is a true Irish lad. He loves to take his weekly wages, not to his starving and needy family, but spends it every Friday night at the bar. When he smells “Like the bottle daddy brings home,” he sings to his boys and makes them swear to die for Ireland. However, when Angela gets pregant and gives birth to a beautiful baby gir whom they name, Margaret. When she is born, Malachy Sr. changes completely and comes home early eery day and tries to pick up a second job for more food for thier bigger family. About a month and a half after she is born, she suddenly gets sick with a high fever. Her parents take her to the hospital and she never comes home. They move to Ireland because New York reminds Angela of her lost little girl.
    The main things that add up to the major conflict is the way that Anglea continues to have children when they keep dying. After Margaret dies, soon one of the twins Eugene dies. And in the lonliness of the life without his twin, soon after Oliver dies. By this time Angela is a horrible mess and in result of being having to be the role model, and a parent to his last sibiling, Frank starts to hang out with some bad kids. His friends always skip class to go to the movies, and now he is starting to steal money from his already poor parents. Angela now has another child Micheal, and when he is almost 6 he also dies. This is Angela’s breaking point, Micheal’s body is burned and Angela keeps his ashes. I liked this book because, though you feel sorry for the whole family, you almost lose the sense of reality. While reading this book it seems like do not want to believe that it is real. This actually did happen, and just imagining what it’s like to lose so many children. Even one is just heart breaking. This book was truely an eye opener to be thankful for the sibilings and family that you have, because you never know what is to come the next day.

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