Throughout reading this book I was planning to give it a solid 3 stars. There is no doubt that Maya Angelou is a formidable woman who has endured more than most and has an important story to tell. But whilst I know this, and can acknowledge that this is an important and well written work, I felt held at a distance throughout most of this read.
There is no structured narrative. It jumps around through the early years of Maya’s life, probably mirroring the erratic and unstable childhood she had endured, and some of her experiences were hard to read about. In saying this however, I can appreciate that this book is meant to be an uncomfortable read and I also know that book is not for me. I am a British white woman, and I’ll never be able to fully understand the experiences and oppression imposed on people of colour, especially in the US, as much as I try to educate myself in these matters.
So the fact that I didn’t connect is no fault of the writing, it’s just the result of reading a book that I feel is meant to hold me at a distance, and I’m ok with that. Having said all this, the last couple of chapters of this book really got to me. There was dark humour, tenderness and a glimmer of hope. Immediately I bumped this up to a 4 star read, as I had to recognise what a formidable woman Maya Angelou really is.