I thoroughly enjoyed reading Maya Angelou’s autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The beginning in which she describes her life growing up in Stamps, Arkansas with her grandmother, Momma Henderson, and her crippled uncle, Uncle Willie, was enthralling. She vividly paints a portrait of life in the Jim Crow South for poor, rural Blacks in the 1930s. The hardships of abject poverty, ubiquitous racism and ever present threat of racial violence like lynchings are laid unapologetically bare in the narrative. The most disturbing (and emotionally difficult for me to read) part of Maya’s life story was the account of the period when she was molested and eventually raped by her mother’s goodfornothing boyfriend, at the tender age of eight years old. The devastating emotional and psychological toll this experience had on her life is unfathomable. Yet somehow she managed to not let this incident irreversibly ruin her outlook in life. Over time she heals and finds the strength and determination to chart a succesful path forward in life without dwelling in a victim mindset. This for me is perhaps the most inspirational aspect of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. My only minor qualm with Maya Angelou’s memoir is that towards the end, when she describes her life in California, the story was much less engaging. It felt almost as if I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings just suddenly came to an end with the birth of her son. In particular, I found her description of the end of her visit to Mexico quite random, and not insightful into her character or events that moulded her as a person, when compared to other vignettes and anecdotes in the narrative. This book is definitely worth at least four stars!
Have you read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings or another of Maya Angelou’s books? Which of her books would you most recommend as a follow up for me to read? Please feel free to share your thoughts or reactions in a comment below. Thanks as always for stopping by! Also, if you would like to receive more updates about my writing please consider joining my newsletter mailing list by subscribing below.