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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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  • 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 26, 2013

    easy reading

    Not as good as the Glass Castle but an easy read

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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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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    One of my favorites!

    A must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Stellar

    I picked this up at a yard sale and think it may be one of the best books ive read...amazing, thought provoking. And it will remind you to be grateful for all you have.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    Great

    Excellent

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2012

    LOVED this book, heartbreaking and heartwarming, you'll leave hi

    LOVED this book, heartbreaking and heartwarming, you'll leave his story appreciating life so much more ;)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2012

    Laugh & cry.

    Brilliant

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2012

    I think overall this was a pretty good book. I didn¿t want to h

    I think overall this was a pretty good book. I didn’t want to have to force myself to keep reading this book if it wasn’t interesting, but I think I was pleasantly surprised with how the book had enough humor and character to make me want to keep reading. Frank McCourt made the story interesting by writing it from his perspective as a child in impoverished Ireland in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. I can’t say that I could exactly relate to the book, but Frank McCourt described the little details, (sometimes details we didn’t really want to know about!) which left me with very few questions at the end of the book. I think this is a good book for a high school student who needs a historically accurate book for a book report or a project. I wouldn’t classify this book as a pleasure read for a high school student, but I would recommend this memoir to a student who is looking for a book that will keep them interested, long enough to finish their project. I do wish that sometimes other people’s perspectives could be included in the book; I know this is not possible because it is a memoir, but sometimes I would’ve liked to know what Angela, Frank’s mother for example, was thinking or feeling at certain parts of the book. Through Frank McCourt’s perspective I could see how living in impoverished Ireland would be very hard for anyone to endure. “Worse than an ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” (Page 11 of Angela’s Ashes) Overall I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars because it was definitely not my favorite book, or a book that I would pick out as a pleasure read, but it was well written and exceeded my expectations.

    ~Written by a 9th grader

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  • Posted November 23, 2012

    Excellent in Audio

    I am glad I picked this up as an audio book. Since the author reads it, the entire "growing up Irish" experience is thoroughly conveyed to the listener. It is hard to imagine such a childhood, yet the author presents it in an unapologetically entertaining manner. It was an all around great story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2012

    Must read

    This story broke my heart

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  • Posted September 23, 2012

    i understand that this was a sad thing for him to recollect but

    i understand that this was a sad thing for him to recollect but the book made me pretty depressed it was just way to sad {but it was an okay read}

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    One of the greatest books I have ever read

    I do not have the time or space to say all I have to say about this book. This is one of the best books I have ever read. Angela's Ashes will stay with me forever. I hate that I cannot tell Mr. McCourt how he has changed my life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012

    Angela¿s Ashes is about hardships, love, will power and staying

    Angela’s Ashes is about hardships, love, will power and staying strong. Frank McCourt captures his reader buy walking them along everything he lived through growing up from an alcoholic father to his hardships of school; the school masters yelling at him and beat him because of his social status. The book starts with the family living in New York during WWll and also during the Great Depression. Frank explains how his family lived in poverty with no sign of getting out of it. They moved back to their “home land” of Ireland in hopes for a better future. When they arrive they quickly find out that nothing is going to get better, his father tries to find and do what work he can but spend his salary on “his pint” leaving Frank’s mother and his siblings to fend for themselves. They buy an apartment but whenever it rains the whole main room floods so they must stay up in the bedrooms most of them time. Frank goes in great depth reliving every hardship that his family lived. The description that he uses is incredible, the reader feels as if they are there living with him. He goes in such detail about all of the heartbreaking, cheerful, and trying experiences in his life. Angela’s Ashes is a wonderful book that makes you think about how easy people have it growing up in times when things we take for granted where a blessing back then. Through all of the trails that Frank dealt with, he did make it all the way through school and proved to everyone who told him he would be nothing he could be something. This book is truly inspiring and is great read I would recommend it to anyone and everyone who would like to know more about how the living was throughout the Great Depression and WWll. Frank McCourt also wrote a follow up book called Tis’ which sounds amazing also. Frank shares his life to show that no matter how rough you have it, you can always make the best out of the worst situations.

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

    Well-Written and Interesting I really enjoyed this look into th

    Well-Written and Interesting
    I really enjoyed this look into the life of a poor Irish-Catholic boy. Angela’s Ashes was written by Frank McCourt through the eyes of himself as a child. It was very interesting to see the dialect of the book change as Frank grew older, and see the world change as Frank began to view it differently. Frank was born in New York but moved to Ireland at a young age. He spent his childhood in extreme poverty, watching his siblings die around him and his father drink away all of their money. It’s an extremely sad story; the reader can’t help but feel awful for all of the turmoil Frank is put through in his childhood. I couldn’t help but get a bit exasperated with the adults in Frank’s life, who were often cruel or unintelligent and led to many bad experiences for Frank. Although it was often difficult to get through the many sad parts in this book, I enjoyed seeing the ways young Frank found to keep a positive outlook on life. Thankfully, most of the sadness I felt in reading this book was outweighed by my appreciation of the writing that went into this book. Frank McCourt truly embodies himself as a child and uses excellent writing craft throughout Angela’s Ashes. My overall impression of this book was a good one. However, I would not recommend this book to young readers or people who don’t want to feel depressed while reading. But, if you’re in the mood for a good non-fiction read, be sure to pick up a copy of Angela’s Ashes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    Fantastic, but rather depressing Angela¿s Ashes is by far one o

    Fantastic, but rather depressing

    Angela’s Ashes is by far one of my favorite books of all time. Frank McCourt is a lovely writer who describes in elegant detail his life during the depression era and WWII. The book starts out in New York but hardships and lack of jobs forced his family back to Ireland, however things there weren’t much better. Frank’s father was a drunkard, meaning his family never received any of the money that he earned. Frank, his two brothers, and his mother were forced to beg and managed to scrape by with the help of the Catholic Church. The town where he grew up was heavily influenced by the catholic religion and it ends up playing a major role through Frank’s life. In the end Frank goes back to New York to make money for his family back in Ireland, but this is where the story ends. Overall I would highly recommend this book to everyone I know. However, Angela’s Ashes is not for the faint of heart. Frank McCourt shares his anger, sadness, happiness, and frustration with the reader, causing for a more in depth appreciation of the memoir. I honestly suggest trying and reading it all the way through because it is a fantastic book and it really makes you realize how easy many of our childhoods are.

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