Monday, August 30, 2010

Candle #19: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

From Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings :

"The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance."

That quote sums up the entire experience of reading Maya Angelou's honest, heart-breaking, and wonderfully written story of growing up black in the 30s and 40s. That she can make her story so real to someone who grew up white, middle-class and with a stable family life, is an amazing feat. She uses lyric language as well as witty satire to bring home to the reader exactly what her life was like. She deftly portrays the courage, dignity and endurance needed to survive a childhood filled with suffering, prejudice, and inequality.

After being shipped back and forth between parents she never really knew and a grandmother who served as mother for most of her growing up years; after many experiences that drove home to Maya the differences between her life and that of "whitefolks"; after several emotionally and sexually disturbing incidents--it is amazing what this woman has become. Honored poet and author, playwright, award-recipient and holder of many honorary degrees--Maya Angelou and all the strong women like her truly do deserve our respect.

I am glad that my Birth Year Reading Challenge brought this book into my list of books read. Its raw emotion and sensitivity made it a difficult read, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Four and a half stars out of five.


J.G. said...

How has this not been on my TBR list all along? Sounds like I have missed some education that I very much need. Thanks for a great review.

brandileigh2003 said...

I haven't read this one, but thanks for the review!

Visiting from Read my Review at A Trillian Books
Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

Danielle Zappavigna said...

I saw Maya Angelou on Oprah a while back and was intrigued, and wanted to read some of her work but was overwhelmed by the choice and so didn't pick anything. Great reivew, I think this is a good one to start with.