I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
(Ballantine Books, 2009, 289 pages)
Upon hearing of Dr. Angelou’s passing I (like a lot of other people) felt compelled to revisit some of her work. I hadn’t read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings since high school and I certainly appreciated it much more this time around. The book is a reflection on Maya Angelou’s past – we see her grow up in Arkansas with her brother Bailey under the supervision of her grandmother (Momma) and uncle. We see her try and adapt to life with her mother and her mother’s family in St. Louis only to be turned mute by an inappropriate encounter with her mother’s boyfriend. Maya and her brother return to Arkansas only to eventually be shipped west to live with their mother in San Francisco as teenagers.
Maya’s life experiences are poetically written and while a number of them demonstrate how hard her life could be at times, she had love in her life and found love in herself and was able to rise above the many attempts to keep her down. If you haven’t had the chance to read this book I highly recommend it, along with her other memoirs and poetry.