Angela’s Ashes is the first and best of a trilogy of Frank McCourt’s memoirs written after he retired from his 30-year career as an English teacher.

In heartbreaking detail, McCourt tells of his childhood and coming of age in Limerick, Ireland around the time of the Second World War. McCourt is able to recount without bitterness the true story of a father who drank away their money at every opportunity, a mother often reduced to the status of beggar, and three siblings who didn’t survive childhood.

Throughout all of this hardship, McCourt still manages to find humor and poetry in his experiences, and the reader shares in his setbacks and triumphs. Shining through the despair is an indomitable human spirit and living proof that the American dream can still be a reality for those who believe in it.

This is a great book and another must-read:

“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. People everywhere brag and whimper about the woes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests; bullying schoolmasters; the English and the terrible things they did to us for eight hundred long years.”

Frank McCourt is 78 years old and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife Ellen. Angela’s Ashes won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1996 and the Pulitzer Prize in 1997.