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Monday, June 18, 2012

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I often pray for common ground and ways to bring healing and intimacy in my family. I prayed for something my step-mom and I could share to grow our relationship. Last summer, I sent her a copy of The Help and it ignited a love affair for reading and sharing books. We have been buying each other books ever since. I grabbed this at Target the other day because I thought she might like to read it. I ended up reading it myself since I wouldn't see her for 2 weeks. 

Maya Angelou can write. I found myself lost in the lyricism of her remembrance. Her life was a crazy twisted mess riddled with abandonment and abuse. Deep in her honesty about confusion and tragedy, I found some simple solace. The way that she transcribed her emotions and lack there of were a balm to me. Her abuse and the death of her abuser left her refusing to talk for five years of her life. She read countless books and a woman led her to read great works and recite poetry out loud. This is something I did and still do as an adult. 

The weaving of all of the experience in this book is really profound. The choices she and her brother made were mind boggling, but no doubt shaped her soul. I really enjoyed her candor in sharing her struggles amidst her story. The raw reality was salve to a woman who is constantly reading things that have been made to have a super Christian spin. She made no excuse for her actions. She made no flowery speech about it all. She stated how she honestly felt in the moment. 

Perhaps, you know Maya presented one of her works at Bill Clinton's inauguration or that she has thirty honorary doctorate degrees. The amazing part is that this woman had been attacked, abused, and abandoned. She has been a pimp and a prostitute. She bore a son upon finishing high school. She is a fiery, richly gifted woman who experienced the depths of degradation, the undaunted pursuit of a white man's job, the civil rights movement as a friend of MLK and Malcolm X. She has truly lived an amazing adventure. This book was fascinating.

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