Angela's Ashes won a Pulitzer Prize in 1997. It is the memoir of Frank McCourt and his upbringing in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. The raves and accolades for this book are overwhelming. The book begins with "When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive 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."
The book has also been made into a movie.
Helen Montgomery in About Teens Magazine:
This novel is so good that it's hard to put down once you start into it. It touches you emotionally in ways that you never thought would. This book is an easy read and is a highly recommended novel.
Young people will recognize the truth in these compelling tales; the emotions expressed; the descriptions of teachers, relatives, neighbors; and the casual cruelty adults show toward children. Readers will enjoy the humor and the music in the language. A vivid, wonderfully readable memoir.
t is true that McCourt refuses no gruesome detail in his account of the poverty he experienced as a child in Limerick. But I nonetheless found Angela’s Ashes to be the most refreshingly unsociological account of poverty I have ever read. Like pre-modern folk tales, McCourt’s stories present extreme suffering more as a fact of life than a problem to be solved. The childlike voice of the narrator invests poverty with an almost natural quality akin to the weather. People certainly complain about the weather, but they do not criticize it.
McCourt is a terrific storyteller and the language of the book is wonderful. There are passages you'll want to read aloud and, indeed, I listened to the audio version which he reads and it is absolutely enchanting. He describes a life of grinding, often degrading, poverty with remarkably little bitterness. In fact, the tone of the book is one of fond remembrance, even in the face of illness, hunger, homelessness and domestic strife. It is a remarkable antidote to the continual bitching and moaning of our Oprahfied society. After reading about McCourt's childhood, you'll think twice before complaining about how hard your own life is.
The Irish and family tradition of story-telling was an important element in McCourt's life. Telling stories was a way of remaining human under inhuman conditions. Reading--the route to an inner life of stories--was equally important. He discovered Shakespeare at age ten while confined to hospital, after almost dying of typhoid. ". . . it's like having jewels in my mouth when I say the words. If I had a whole book of Shakespeare they could keep me in the hospital for a year." This is a wonderful memoir--a study in resiliency, a cultural primer, a testament to the human spirit.