Book – I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Author – Maya Angelou
Year – 1969
Genre – Autobiography
Recommended by my Mum
Finally, I am through the next book in my challenge. It has been nearly two weeks since I started this book, and I have reached the end of it (allowing arch-rival Bob to catch up with me). However this should not be taken as a reflection on I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.
I have known for years that my Mum considers this one of the best books she has ever read, and after having read it for a course, went out and read the rest of Angelou’s autobiographies. Having read one of my Dad’s very favourite books earlier on this year felt it would only be fair to read this one.
It is known as a moving and deep account of life growing up as a young black girl in America in the 1930s. In writing this book, Angelou broke a mold by becoming possibly the first black female to prove that her life was worth reading about. She manages this without once sounding worthy or put-upon, and with a charm that makes the entire book very readable.
I had heard how moving the book was, but for the first fifty or so pages found it simply an enjoyable autobiographical account. However you eventually reach the section where Maya Angelou tells of her ordeal at the hands of her stepfather at the age of eight, and I don’t mind admitting that I let out and audible sob sat on the top deck of the bus. It is testament to the author’s strong writing style that within a few pages she has you smiling at the exploits of her brother again, despite such a strong event preceding it so closely.
The troubles involved in growing up as a black woman in America eighty odd years ago is hardly a topic that it easy for a white, British, twenty-something man to connect with, but in this book Angelou manages to let it happen. Most unusually for an autobiography, it leaves you waiting for the next in the series, and I shall look forward to continuing.