“I thought that if I wrote a book, I would have to examine the quality in the human spirit that continues to rise despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Rise out of physical pain and the psychological cruelties.
Rise from being victims of rape and abuse and abandonment to the determination to be no victim of any kind.
Rise and be prepared to move on and ever on.”
Okay, by now, I’m sure you know that I read a lot of books.
But the UK lockdown has driven my addiction into overdrive – over mere days, I read all of Maya Angelou’s autobiography.
“But, Tassia, ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ isn’t that long…”
Au contraire, dear reader – I read Maya’s full autobiographical series: all seven books in days, because I became obsessed with her life.
Of course, the series begins with ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’, possibly her most well-known piece of work.
But that’s just the beginning.
I’ll admit, I was woefully uneducated about Maya Angelou, aside from a few empowering quotes, and these books had been sat on my bookshelf for far too long.
When I started, I had no idea how riveting and absorbing the story was – not just Maya’s beautiful and elegant style of writing, but her actual life story.
I won’t give too much away about the plot (if you can call it a plot when it’s a true story), but I will say that seven books are just enough to tell her story.
It’s worth every person reading this review taking the time to read this autobiographical series, because of the sheer power within the pages.
Hard-to-hear experiences of racism, sexism, and abuse are countered with uplifting remembrances of success, travel, love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
Every person can take words of wisdom from Maya’s autobiographies, and apply them to their own lives to see a meaningful impact.
Maya’s story tells me that, no matter the hand you’re dealt in life, no matter the sh*t you’ve been through, you can still say ‘yes’ to life, and to opportunities that come your way – and that’s how you make your mark.
So rise up, take a deep breath, and say ‘yes’ to life.
I’ll close this review with one (of many) of my favourite lines from this series, where Maya starts to entertain the idea of writing this, her autobiography.
This is a small sample of the beautiful, powerful resilience of Maya Angelou, her hardships, and her unbreakable spirit – one of the most inspirational people to have ever lived.
Maya Angelou’s autobiographical series is available on her website and at all good bookshops (RRP £8.99-9.99 per book)