Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

October 25, 2013
Angela’s Ashes is a memoir written by Frank McCourt, a boy born in the Depression Era of the United States. Frank is the first son of Angela Sheehan, a woman not fit to work in Ireland, and Malachy McCourt, a man from North Ireland. Although Frank was born in the United States, the family ends up moving back to Limerick, Ireland where they face new obstacles ranging from poverty to being called Yankees. Limerick, Angela’s hometown, discriminates against people from the North like Frank’s father which is an economic disadvantage for Frank’s family.

Normally, children are taught the effects that the Depression had on the United States. While reading Angela’s Ashes, one becomes cognizant of the effects the Depression and World War II had on Ireland. McCourt highlights the struggles the families of Ireland: lack of clothing, hunger, disease and death. He allows you to empathize with struggling mothers while showing you the different stages as a development into a young man, creating an emotional connection.

War is often depicted as cruel and vile, but as soon as England entered World War II Limerick, Ireland’s economic status improves. Since men from England are needed for the war, the need for labor increases, and the men from Limerick answer their call. Many thanked the Germans for the war because it helped their economic status, but the war lead to the death of millions. Though it may sound terrible, the reader understands the level of desperation the families have.

Frank McCourt eloquently describes the story of his life. The reader is brought into his household and shows one what it was like to be him. Frank’s story provokes the thought about how fortunate one is, not having tire rubber as shoes and not having abusive Catholic school teachers. Despite the tragic events that were occurring at the time of his youth, the innocence of his childhood and the awkwardness of his adolescence can crack a smile in any reader.

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