Book #85: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Somehow, I made it to this point in my life without ever having read Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

I’d always seen it as one of those coming-of-age things that you should read growing up, but if you miss that window between 15 and 20 when it’s most meaningful, it’s not that big of a deal. Angelou’s book means a lot to a lot of people, but I wasn’t terribly bothered that I hadn’t read it.

I was (a little) wrong.

I couldn’t relate much to Angelou’s story – I didn’t grow up poor and black in the South – but there are some things about growing up that are pretty universal (duh). Angelou tells her story with precision and art.

She addresses really painful and sensitive issues like racism and sexual abuse with tact and art, while still not shying away from the painful reality of what happened. Add that to apt descriptions of the confusion and general discomfort of growing up and struggling to make sense of an already complex, confusing world, which is something everybody can relate to.

And what’s more, the woman is a damn good writer.

Rating: ***
Up Next: The Corrections

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