Despite a lot of the hatred that seems to be around for this book, I found it quite humbling and powerful. Personally I read it as a story of poverty,...moreDespite a lot of the hatred that seems to be around for this book, I found it quite humbling and powerful. Personally I read it as a story of poverty, growing up and dealing with hardship. It happened to take place in Ireland for most of it, yes, but the vehement rejection of this book as an "Irish book" seems to be missing the point. McCourt deals with his father's alcoholism, and the odd complacency everyone seems to have for it, his own sense of manhood, identity, poor health, poverty, religion and sexual awakening.
There are times when I can see the dreariness of his life can be overwhelming--hell, there were times I had to put the book down myself because it was just so frustrating and depressing. But I found a sense of humility in the book, and it made me look at my own life through his lens; a lot of my "problems," I found, were quite trivial and didn't really matter in the long run. McCourt tells the story of his childhood in the style a child may talk, but he reflects on it like an old man, worn and weary with age.
I also found the prominence and interpretation of religion interesting. I am not that religious myself, but I could almost feel the sense of hope and rejuvenation McCourt found from it, and near the end, when he recalls being broken down in one of his hometown churchs, I was nearly brought to tears. It was quite a powerful moment.
I don't know if I would count this book as "one of the great classics of the last century" but it is definitely a worthwhile read and a great lesson in humility and appreciation of who you are and what you have. In the end, it's hopeful, youthful and uplifting and we all need reminders of that once in a while.(less)