So there’s not really a plot, because it’s an autobiography, so it’s
about Maya Angelou’s life. It starts when she’s about three years old and it
ends when she’s 17. It chronicles her life in Stamps, Arkansas, where she lived
with her grandmother. Her parents had a slightly tumultuous marriage and her
parents sent Maya and her brother to live with their paternal grandmother. Maya
and Bailey eventually move to St.Louis when Maya is 7-8, and they live with
their mother. Maya is raped by her mother’s boyfriend, and for a long time she
refuses to talk. Because after he is let out of jail he is killed, presumably
by Maya’s uncles, and she thinks her voice can kill. They move back with their
grandmother again, and Maya sort of fights her way back. Eventually they move
to San Francisco to live with their mother again.
For a little while in the beginning I sort of forgot that this was an
autobiography. It is so beautifully written, it’s gorgeous, and it felt like
just a story about a girl named Marguerite, which is Maya’s real name, Maya
being a nickname her brother gave her. Then I sort of pulled myself out of
that, and read it as an autobiography about Maya’s life.
The prose is just so beautiful and wonderful. Maya Angelou was born in
1928, so she grew up during segregation, and this is especially evident when
Maya is with her grandmother in Arkansas. It’s heavily segregated, the blacks
in town mainly work in the cotton fields. Black girls work as maids in white
houses. And even though this wasn’t a great time to live it was still
beautifully written about.
I feel like she has experienced a lot. It only covers about 14 years and
she goes through a lot of stuff. And also, she’s a badass. When she’s 15 she
becomes the first black woman to be a conductor on the streetcars in San
Francisco, purely by being persistent and tough. She will let nothing stop her,
and she is fierce.
I don’t know if I have much to say about this book, it’s fascinating to
read about the US in the 30s and 40s. It’s fascinating to read about her life,
everything she’s done and experienced. It’s really interesting and it’s
beautiful. I really want to read some of her poetry as well.