If I’m not the last person on earth to discover Frank McCourt, I’m sure I’m pretty close. Frank is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of the best selling memoir, Angela’s Ashes. A book I’ve never read due to my typical avoidance of anything super popular. (Cause I’m a rebel.)
Not long ago, someone I think to be smarter than me mentioned Frank being one of the world’s greatest writers. Embarrassed by this glaring omission in my library I looked through his offerings and settled on ‘Tis. One chapter into the book and I was hooked. He tells the story of his difficulties trying to survive in post WW II New York with such wit & humor that I was laughing so hard and reading chapters out loud to my husband. Good stuff indeed. Though he came from Ireland and not Eastern Europe like my family, I can still imagine many of the same scenarios playing out regardless of nationality.
In the book, Frank works very hard to go to NYU to become an English teacher. Because of his Irish accent he has difficulties finding a job for the administrators fear the students would not take him seriously. He finally lands a position teaching at a vocational high school with kids not very interested in learning and far from interested in composing essays on “My Life” or ‘What I did on my Summer Vacation.” The tide takes a turn when Frank discovers piles of old composition books in the classroom closet. He has the students read the essays out loud and they are moved to tears when they discover the authors to be their fathers, aunts, uncles… people no longer with them, people they never got to know.
I myself started to tear up reading this part. I just kept thinking, “He got through to them!” And this is where I stopped for the night. I’m really hoping that these kids end up inspired to tell their own stories for their children and grandchildren to someday read.
Good enough reason to start jotting down your thoughts and day to day actions?