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'Tis by Frank McCourt
Published by Flamingo

'Tis is the sequel to 'Angela's Ashes', where Frank McCourt takes up the story of his life as he arrives in America, nineteen years old, without a high school diploma. He doesn't know how to dance and he doesn't know to ask a girl to dance - how could he after growing up in Limerick? The same black humour is evident in this book as was in his previous book, but I felt that his story could have been just as effectively told in one volume. This is a bleaker book than 'Angela's Ashes' because here his personal sense of bitterness and anger against the world is very evident.

He was drafted into the U.S. army at the beginning of the Korean War and after initial training was posted to Germany. He is excellent at describing the petty-mindedness and tedium of the cold war American army and the regular punishments he gets because he is never prepared to obey without question. Following his discharge from the Army he goes to night school on the G.I. bill and qualifies as a teacher. His relationship with his mother continues to be a difficult one and his never hides his bitterness against his father and blames him for the misery of his childhood. Frank McCourt carries a huge chip on his shoulder and nourishes an inferiority complex because of his deprived upbringing even when he has become successful and settled in America. One could almost feel sorry for him that he cannot let go of the gloom and doom of his past. Overall I found this a depressing book to read because every cloud has the opposite of a silver lining and the few silver linings quickly become tarnished.

Reviewed by Marie, a Clare County Library staff member.