Ok, maybe not so sweet. The book I’m writing about today is quite bitter and sad. For those of you who didn’t have to read Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes in school as a kid, as I did not, here’s the basic plot: A kid details his childhood in the 40’s and 50’s in Ireland. His family lives in severe poverty. There are too many mouths to feed, a mother who stays home with the children, and a father who can’t keep a job because he drinks too much and can’t get to work on time. Frank, the writer, is attempting to save money to come to America.
The misery is broken up here and there by some rather amusing anecdotes. McCourt is a fantastic writer, and I love that this memoir is told in the disjointed and somewhat unorganized voice of a child. He is able to make light of some of the horrifying things that happen to his family, and it is evident that his child self does not quite understand what is happening. “Frankie” is not afraid of telling things like they are–his father “drinking away the dole,” his mother “doing the excitement” in the loft with another man, the lashings he and his peers received from their masters at school, etc.
It is by no means an uplifting book, but it’s one of those that you probably should read because it makes you think about just how much you have, and just how much others manage to live without.