I feel like I’m going to go to hell for this, but Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt made me laugh, a lot. Everyone I’d ever talked to about the memoir said it was horribly depressing if well written and so I’d put off reading it as long as I could, but the guilt of having it sit on my shelf unread got to me and I finally picked it up.
Then I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it is the really rough story of growing up dirt poor in Limerick, Ireland with siblings dying around him and his father drinking away any money he earns, leaving his poor mother perpetually pregnant and begging for food for her children. This memoir follows McCourt from his birth through till he earned/stole enough money to get himself passage to America.
But beyond this dark and dingy situation, there is the shining humor and strength of Frank shining through. You’ll be going along reading a really horribly depressing scene about the death of someone down the lane and then you get this one liner that just has you busting at the seams. Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m just a horrible person. Or maybe McCourt is just that good of an author and he ratchets your tension so high with the deaths and the disease that when he throws you a “Kids Say the Darndest Things” line, it hits you harder than most and you laugh to keep from crying about everything else that happened to him.
I would very much suggest people pick this book up as it is worth every moment of your time. Beautifully written, and a stunning look into times past in a country that has not had the smoothest of histories.