Monday, April 1, 2013

#BookReview: Mom & Me & Mom - Maya Angelou

The average person knows that she wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings or they remember her inaugural speech for President Clinton, On the Pulse of Morning. You may know her for her poetic stylings in Still I Rise or for the younger generation, as an elder in Tyler Perry movies.

Readers, I'm here to tell you that Madame Angelou has lived! I picked up her then complete collection as a freshmen in college 20 years ago and was blown away. The books shown below cover her life from the beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969); the ages 17 through 19 as a single mother working as a prostitute and madam in a brothel in Gather Together in My Name (1974); Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976) covers her marriage to a Greek sailor, her dance career (did you know she once partnered with THE Alvin Ailey), and the recording of her first album.

The Heart of A Woman (1981) reflects on her time as a member of the noted Harlem Writer's Guild; her time in Egypt and Ghana; her close friendship with Malcolm X; and raising a black man in America. All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986) finds her back in the United States working as a songwriter for Roberta Flack, writing short stories and preparing for her role in Alex Haley's Roots miniseries.

In her latest, Mom & Me & Mom, she finally touches upon the backbone of her greatness.  If you're like me, you remember that in I Know Why... she mentions being raised by her grandmother in Arkansas, briefly mentioning her time in California with her mother and then jumps straight into being an adult.  There is so much that was missing and it's covered now.

With a mother like Vivian Baxter, I don't know how Maya Angelou could have been anything but great.  There's nothing like a mother's love and Vivian stood in the gap for Maya like no one else could.  The confidence she instilled in Maya at a young age and support she continued to give her throughout her life was just amazing.  Not only did she serve as a sounding board and backbone for her daughter, she served as one for her communities.  She was a truly amazing woman for her time and Maya came by her spunk honestly.

When I tell you Madam Angelou has lived a full life, she truly has. As an impressionable young woman, I was so blown away by her story. Recounting now all that she has done in the time period that's not even covered by these books is even more stunning. My hope is that you will take the time  to read all of her autobiographies and get to know and appreciate this woman who is truly an American treasure.

Published: April 2013
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

Theme: Tell Mama by Etta James

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