Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt This book tells the story of author Frank McCourt's difficult childhood. Either he has an amazing memory or, more likely, he's embellished a bit of this to fill in the gaps to make it a readable memoir. I can't remember what I ate for breakfast, never mind what I ate or longed to eat for breakfast when I was wee child.

The book reads like a novel and I quickly forgot it was a first hand account of growing up in a slum with absolutely nothing but an exhausted mum, a lush of a dad who can't keep a job and a slew of younger siblings who seem to die off as soon as the next one is born. Frank grows up quickly because mom is tired, dad is lazy and he and his younger brother must take of the younger kids, scour the lane for bits of coal to keep his family warm, steal bits of food to survive and then face cruelty at school. The book is pretty grim so far as I've read but compelling enough that I want to continue reading to see how Frank makes it out alive.

I've seen criticism that this book is a one-sided view of Ireland during the depression and from what I read it looks like that is true. Many times in the book the author points out that other boys had shoes and weren't eating a pig head for Christmas dinner but the author gets away with it because he is writing from his experience and not of the experience of the boy with the full belly and hard-working father.

This was a thoroughly compelling, wryly funny, and often tragic read. It's much longer than most of the books I read but when the end came it was too soon.