“You have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it. If you won the Irish Sweepstakes and bought a house that needed furniture would you fill it with bits and pieces of rubbish? Your mind is your house and if you fill it with rubbish from the cinemas, it will rot in your head. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”
This is a sad book. Frank is born in Brooklyn during the depression, an unwanted child whose appearances forces a marriage between his unhappy mother and alcoholic father. The family moves to Ireland after the death of his sister, where his extended family resents him because he looks like his Northern-born father. Two more babies die. No one has any food or money or heat. They live in a flea-infested house that floods every winter. It was a terrible time for many, many people, and particularly bad for Frank’s family, since his father drank every penny he made before disappearing completely.
Still, I liked the book. McCourt’s writing style is humorous, and he blends tragedy and comedy in such a way that makes the story stay very balanced. His anecdotes about his teachers and friends made me laugh even while the descriptions of the hunger and cold his family suffered made me tear up. He obviously had a good mind, and therefore was able to rise above the tragedy so many endured.