Friday, 24 May 2019

Book Review: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The first book in Maya Angelou’s series of autobiographies, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings depicts Angelou’s childhood in the American south in the 1930s.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Reading and reviewing memoirs is something I find quite difficult. These are real life events described by the people who went through them, and judging them just seems incredibly harsh. Of course it’s great when you love the memoir and you can happily give it 5 stars and all the praise... but when you don’t love it, it feels mean to start picking at the reasons why you didn’t.

There is absolutely no doubt that Angelou was an incredibly inspiring woman, however I didn’t always connect with this one as much as I had hoped to. Some parts are terribly upsetting and hard to read because of the horrific abuse and racial prejudices that Angelou faced, whereas other parts moved quite slowly and became kind of boring... I don’t feel like there is much joy in this book, so although it’s a very impactful read, it’s not necessarily the most enjoyable. The most joyful parts for me were those that depicted the beautiful relationship between Maya and her brother, Bailey.

This is an important book that covers topics and issues that should be discussed, and Angelou does this in such a heartbreakingly honest and truthful way using her beautifully poetic prose. I just found it a chore at times and it makes me feel bad to even admit that :(

As it’s part of a series of autobiographies, it just abruptly ends at a point where you feel like you need to know more as something quite major has just occurred... but I’m honestly not sure if I’ll read the next book. Maybe someday! But I’m still glad I read this one.

3 stars out of 5. (To clarify, this rating is based on my personal enjoyment as I don’t really believe in rating memoirs)


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