I had been debating whether I should read a book by Angelou or Morrison, but was scared at the prospect. As much as I want to read everything and all, I’m more and more aware with age that one must choose.
My 9th grader’s English teacher has required this book for her class. I then decided to read it. The teacher sent an email offering an alternative for those parents who objected.
The book is an autobiographical account of Angelou’s life from childhood until 16 years of age. I can see how it’s highly controversial. It does touch on very tough topics, and while not gratuitously descriptive, it’s all out there, she doesn’t beat about the bush.
I read it in just a few days. I find it of beauty and value. I’m passing the book to my daughter with underlined parts, with some definitions, and with notes at the back marking some important pages.
No one can’t deny Angelou’s talent for writing. She drank from the best sources, -the books, culture and folklore-, and she put her heart and wits in this book. I appreciate her capacity for love and honesty. She offers her life for us to see and to draw our own conclusions.
There’s a lot of wisdom, and through her life, Angelou pierces at America in the flesh of her people: the good, the bad, the hypocrite and the moral upright. Those around her, and herself, are offered as they are, with no pretenses or sugar coating, without embitterment, although she leaves the sting and the burn.
I believe our youth is ready and deserves to wrestle with this book and its offering. If it’s too much for my daughter, she’ll let me know. Yesterday, as we went to see Little Women, the three of us, my 15 year old, my 13 year old, and I, my oldest thought that the movie was too intense, too close to life in many regards. I know, it tagged at my heartstrings too, it was raw and exactly that, too intense. The book has been intense as well, but over the 289 pages, one has time to adjust to it as well.
I’d rather not write about the plot, it’ll strip the book of its shocking factor. It’s not what is told alone, but what’s told and how she tells it, that needs to be heard and read.
The book is full of wonderful yet organic quotes. I leave you with one of my favorites:
“She said that I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and even more intelligent than college professors.”pg. 99 of my edition
(The book being published in 1969, will be a candidate for many Back to the Classics Challenge 2020 categories. I’ll wait until the end of the year to decide where to submit all the classics I manage to read)