“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”- Maya Angelou
In my hometown, we have the greatest second hand book store. I'd read some poetry and shorts by Maya Angelou in school, and wanted to see what I could pick up to read over the summer of my 18th year of life, now many moons ago. The bookstore employee pointed me in the direction I needed to go, and I began to dig. Long before the days of smart phones, I had to rely on picking through the novel and the reviews written on the soft covered back and inside pages. That hot summer day, I had picked up the book that would change the way I interpreted written word. I'd always loved to read- I mean duh. I could've been at the college parties down the street that day with my friends, but I tried to keep a balance between my want to party like an 18 year old, and being the introverted soul that I was. For less that $2, I'd left with a heavily loved copy of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", a brilliant and heartfelt autobiography by Maya Angelou. This book is a must read for everyone, because Dr. Angelou can bring you into a place and time like very few authors can- offering a release from reality. Although it is an autobiography, it reads like a fiction novel, telling tales of Angelou's early life in Stamps, Arkansas. In the book she tells stories of living in a segregated area of the south, long before the Civil Rights Movements, during the great depression. She was sent by train and literally tagged with postage and papers to travel alone with her slightly older brother when they were abandoned by their parents. Sent to their grandmother, who would raise them in the rural farming community where her grandmother owned the general store that served the black community. From gospel lessons, to racism, to rape, to harassment, to being a mute, to surviving the great depression and being considered "rich" during a time where people went hungry, there are very important lessons to be read.
A book that will pull every heart string you have and take you to experience life with young Maya, you will feel the heat of the Arkansas summer on a frilly dress after church. Maya's words allow the reader to feel her emotions. You can smell her grandma's cooking and hear the speech of the native poor black culture, where they were just trying to survive the great depression and the harsh realities of being black in the south. Her gift with words and ability to express her stories through writing is something that few authors possess, particularly from a personal angle. If you haven't read it, I hope you consider it. If you've read it, let me know!