As a child, I enjoyed reading stories of fantastical lands with admiral characters, some humor, some horror, and some romance. As I got older, I found myself gravitating towards historical memoirs that capture the human spirit. Working 8-5 (or rather 10-7) while straining my eyes everyday on the computer, I no longer had the luxury of time to indulge in make-believe stories on pages of paper. I realized that I often started a book, read about 20-50 pages and then decided it wasn’t worth my while. If I wanted to escape from reality, I would go into nature or watch a movie. What I seek in a book is something more. I seek to gain some sort of understanding, courage, or inspiration that will really touch my soul.
When I randomly picked up Angela’s Ashes (as my brother’s coworker had loaned it to him), I expected to read a few pages to cure my boredom. Instead, I found myself engaged in the book. It’s one of the few books that I read from beginning to end since I started working full-time.
Angela’s Ashes is a heart-felt story about a young boy who grew up in Limerick, Ireland. With an irresponsible drunkard for a father, Frank and his family lived in poverty (wearing rags for clothes and surviving on fried bread and tea). The reader sees him lose his young brothers and sister to sickness and malnourishment, one by one. However, despite the tragedy in their life, the reader can always sense a bit of hope that sits in the hearts of Frank’s family.
Frank elegantly and honestly portrays the courage and curiosity of children, the strong love of a mother, and the importance of hope through his well-defined characters and story-telling. True compassion can be seen in the midst of poverty. While not all the characters are admiral, the reader can’t help but root for them because they have become our friend, our brother, our mother. Through this tragic tale of poverty and humiliation, a family perseveres, and a bright, young man opens door to a new beginning with a love for learning. It’s a true inspiration to know that anything is possible as long as one doesn’t give up and keeps on smiling.