Book by my bedside: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings // Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou is known for being a phenomenal woman; she’s a mother, poet and philanthropist and also an incredible author.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is the beginning of a seven-volume autobiography where, as the reader, we travel through the author’s life from the south of the US to Africa and all the way back again.

I bought this book when I was scanning online for something thought provoking to read. Having just read The Colour Purple by Alice Walker, I wanted some more African-American literature.

As a white woman, I have never faced discrimination for the colour of my skin but the author manages to effectively demonstrate the genuine struggles that many black women in the US face.

Following her parents’ separation, the young African-American girl moves with her older brother Bailey to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with her Grandmother “Momma”. At such an early age Angelou feels the pressure and discrimination from the ‘white’ society around her.

I felt genuinely moved when her Momma was mocked by “powhitetrash” (the poor white people of the area.) I felt angry and had to grab for the tissues for a little cry. Something I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings does so well is immerse the reader and evoke a range of emotions. This could be seen as a blessing and a curse as although the books aren’t the most cheery things you’ll read, they’re thought-provoking and stimulating.

The great thing is it’s even made me laugh out loud too. One example is when a woman at a church service they went to stormed on the stage several times. That’s what I’m loving about the book so far, it’s an emotional rollercoaster and I don’t even need to leave my room to feel like that.

So far I’d give the book 4 out of 5 stars. I haven’t read many autobiographies in my life but this one I can definitely recommend.

Words by Angelica Giugno

Edited by Maisie Green

Khushi and Hannah are your entertainment editors

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