Hola! Bonjour! Guten tag! Hello!
Today is Sunday, meaning it is also book review day, yay! I am sorry that this is going up later than normal, however I was working all day and didn’t get a chance to write my review earlier in the week. Anyway, today’s review is of Letter to my Daughter by Maya Angelou.
Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou’s path to living well and living a life with meaning. Told in her own inimitable style, this book transcends genres and categories: guidebook, memoir, poetry, and pure delight.
Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters and taught her lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward, six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.
Whether she is recalling such lost friends as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a “lifelong endeavor,” or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice–Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.
Like the rest of her remarkable work, Letter to My Daughter entertains and teaches; it is a book to cherish, savor, re-read, and share.
“I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native Americans and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you.” (Goodreads)
Now, if you saw one of my previous posts which was an author spotlight on Maya Angelou you will know that she is my biggest role model and how much I love her in general. Her spirit, her experiences, her attitude, her wisdom and her morals render me speechless and I find anything I read by her to be an absolute joy. This was no different.
This book is a collection of essays, some personal and some dealing with other issues. While varying in their topics, content and length, they all have a message or moral underpinning them. She tells short snippets of stories to do with previous experiences in her life and discusses things such as loss of loved ones and friends, independence and sexual assault. Each topic she addresses with eloquence and poignancy and each essay in itself is a testament to her and how good of a person she was.
“I am convinced that most people do not grow up…We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias.”
What I love about Maya Angelou above all, is how she never tries to hide the mistakes she has made or the times she may have been quick to judge or been ignorant etc. She instead highlights these and uses them as a lesson to learn from. I think this is a very great message to show as when you are in control of how you are seen to the world, like Maya was, it would be all to easy to portray yourself as a saint without fault. However, Maya shows that she -like everybody- makes mistakes and that this is okay, and that while you may sometimes do something you regret or don’t think an action through, this doesn’t have to make you a bad person if you learn from it and take the experience through life with you. The books depict her so genuinely and honestly and that is part of why I love them.
In addition, I just think that Angelou had some wonderful thoughts. She thought widely and deeply about a lot of topics and so all of her essays are very insightful. The prose in this collection was as gorgeous as her other books, and oozes inspiration. As well as this, a few pieces of poetry were scattered throughout this collection which made it all the more beautiful and creative.
I would really recommend this essay collection to anyone who is just starting to read essays, as it doesn’t read as some formal and boring non fiction, which I fear is what a lot of people may perceive essays to be. Instead this collection is bursting with life, emotions and lessons. I would urge any of you to read this! If you are interested in more information on Maya Angelou’s work, click here to read it!
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”