Wednesday, July 29, 2009


July Book: Letter to My Daughter
Author: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou has been described by Wikipedia as an American autobiographer and poet.She has also, amongst other things, been a dancer, producer, playwright and actress.

I Googled Angelou and found this on the USA Today site:
She was raised by her grandmother, "the greatest person I ever met," in racially segregated Stamps, Ark. She has written about being raped at 7 and becoming an unwed mother at 17, and about the friends who changed her life, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin, whom she knew as "Jimmy."

Now, she's a great-grandmother. She has an 18-room house in Winston-Salem and two town houses in Harlem, black America's unofficial capital, which is enjoying a real estate renaissance. One she rents out, the other she uses as an urban getaway, perfect for dinner parties.

Prior to this all that I knew about this author is that she is highly revered by Oprah Winfrey who describes her as a mentor. I knew that Oprah has thrown her a week long cruise for 150 of her 'closest friends' for a significant birthday. In fact Oprah is one of the many women who are acknowledged at the beginning of the book.

Letter to my Daughter is a collection is essays written to the 'daughter' Angelou never had.

I loved some of the words in the introductory passage:

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them." On reading this right at the beginning I was quite excited, thinking I am going to love this book.


It only took a couple of hours to read the whole thing but as I went through it I became more and more cynical. It seemed preachy, self-indulgent and too assuming. I felt like it was a book of sermons but sometimes I couldn't get the message. Perhaps I'm just not well read enough but I didn't know who all the people were that she talked about. Was I meant to? The random words of wisdom seemed, well, too random. There were some amazing words in there but bound as a whole book I found it all too much.

But, hey, that's me. Lots of people will disagree.Plenty of people will love it. That's fine. This is how I felt about it. Today.


Penny said...

hmmm... I'm still waiting to get this one from the library. It's going to be interesting to see if I like it. I've read 2 of her autobiographical works which were quite good.

scrapgeek said...

Yep - pretty much how I found it. I read the Wikipedia article on her (definitive I am sure :) ) and felt frustrated that the interesting person that was described there mostly didn't seem to make it into this book. But at least it was short!