Cassy's Reviews > Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
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Mar 31, 11

bookshelves: books-in-2009, non-fiction
Read in November, 2009, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** I was actually a little underwhelmed by this book. I had been told by a lot of people that it was a sad but great story. Yes, it was definitely sad. This family never seems to catch a break. Frank's father is a drunk who can't get a job and drinks away all the money that the family has. Frank loses four (maybe five?I lost track after awhile) siblings over the course of his life to different diseases and each nearly destroys his mother. Frank get Typhoid and a disease in his eyes, an affliction that seems to plague him all his life. His father leaves for England, never sends money back to the family and eventually, leaves for good, never to return to his family.

However, these things seemed to shape Frank into the genuine person he becomes. Yes, Frank has his faults. He steals and believes himself in a constant state of sin, he hits his mother at one point but most of his actions are mitigated by something else. He steals because he's hungry and has no money to feed himself. He steals money so he can go to America and support his family. He's drunk when he hits his mother, after dragging up all the terrible things she did (which were actually a lot.) Frank loves his family despite all of their differences and fights. He always gives his wages to his mother, minus the small amount he puts in a bank account to save for his trip to America. He takes care of all of his brothers from a very young age.

His belief is the thing that fascinates me the most. The Catholic church is melded into his being. From day one he's taught that he's a sinner and needs to confess and needs to be in a state of grace. Frank is constantly sinning (or what he perceives as sin.) He steals, he has sex, he masturbates and seems to not care. Yet, one of the most moving scenes in the book is when he goes to the church after not confessing for years and, at age sixteen, breaks down like he's a little boy again. He tells everything to the priest, sobbing for all of his sins and all the hardships in his life. Those few condensed paragraphs were more powerful than the majority of the book.

The writing style really bothers me. I feel like I'm reading one large, run on sentence. I feel like I'm almost tumbling over the words but not in the "I can't wait to read the next word" kind of way but in the "Oh, my God, use a period" kind of way. Meg Rosoff writes How I Live Now in a similar way but the way she does it makes it an amazing book that reads more like a stream of consciousness. McCourt is trying for that same effect but doesn't quite pull it off.

It does get happier towards the end. The family has money enough to at least feed and clothe themselves but the way McCourt words it, it still sounds really depressing. I was also hoping to kind of hear about the war and how it affected Ireland and McCourt's life but it was largely absent from the book. The only thing you really heard was the mentality of the Irish. They were sorry for all the things happening to people and the men getting killed but there was also an underlying thankfulness. Hitler was bad, yes, but because of this war, a lot of the Irish were able to go over to England and make a lot of money.

It was a good book and seeing things from a child's perspective certainly made for an interesting read but I was just expecting more out of it. I was expecting a heart wrenching tale but it really wasn't. It was just depressing. I would read the book but I wouldn't put it at the top of your "to read" list.
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Reading Progress

11/16/2009 page 131
30.32% "I told him one night that I was waiting for the angel, and he said, Och, now, Francis, you're a bit of a dreamer."
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