Quick Book Review: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
This book has been sitting in my bookcase for years. I certainly understand why it’s a touchstone for so many people. Reading her life story, you really feel and understand the struggles she faced in the Jim Crow south. What starts out as a seemingly happy childhood turns pretty tragic, as she faces constant racism, poverty (at one point living in a car parked in a junkyard) and terrible sexual abuse (raped by her mother’s boyfriend at the age of eight). The rape scars her so deeply that she stops speaking for several years. Through these tough times, she manages to develop a love of reading, and eventually becomes the activist and poet we all know and admire. The storytelling is incredible, and her unconditional love for her brother Bailey is very moving. The story abruptly ends with her giving birth to a son at the age of 16. This powerful account of growing up and coming of age in the 1930s and 1940s is the first of her seven autobiographies, and there’s no way you can read this one without wanting to read the others, which I definitely plan to do now.