Unfortunately I saw the film first which I wouldn't dream of doing normally. However, in this instance and again this isn't normally the case, the film is better. Harrowing in the extreme and I wouldn't watch it again if you paid me but, the book doesn't pack as near a powerful punch. It's written with humour and reads beautifully but the emotion just wasn't there for me. Maybe it would have been had I not seen the film first.
The book is in 3 parts (film is of the middle one when he is sent to the industrial school); there are better memoirs of troubled Irish pasts though and none compare to Angela's Ashes.