Title: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Author: Maya Angelou
Page Count: 314
This is Maya Angelou’s first (and most famous) volume of autobiography, mostly covering her younger days including some pretty harrowing scenes of sexual abuse. That means that it’s not exactly easy reading, although I think it’s worth sticking with if you can unless it’s a trigger for you and you’re better off avoiding it.
Angelou writes with a raw honesty while simultaneously writing stunning prose that reads almost like poetry, which is probably no surprise considering her background. It’s also impressive how she’s able to tell stories from her life that relate back to some of the injustices in society. I’d like to say that things have got better, and I suppose they have, but it’s still not great.
Other highlights include a memorable trip to Mexico with her father, who promptly took her to a bar and then left her there while he went off to do the dirty with a Mexican prostitute. She hid in the car until he got back, but he was too drunk to take them home and so she ended up driving the car 50 miles or so through the Mexican mountains.
All of this shows the resilience that Angelou has, as well as her versatility and adaptability. She was truly a remarkable woman, and even though her school was pretty useless, she educated herself to the point at which I’m pretty sure she was more well-read than most people I know.
All in all then, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a moving memoir that can be difficult to read but which is super rewarding if you’re able to give it your attention. I’d recommend picking it up if you get a chance to read this one.