Book Review: “Letter to my daughter” by Maya Angelou

Picked up this book from Overdrive library. The introduction was so interesting that I picked this, thinking that I may learn something from the wisdom of an old woman.

Maya has lots of opinions about ring piercing, vulgarity, being truthful when people asked you “how are you?”, no sugar-coating of violence/rape, and etc.

Maya was very honest about her beliefs, her past mistakes (giving birth after a meaningless sexual encounter, encounter of a psychotic boyfriend, called Two-finger Mark, who almost killer her), her thought about suicide, her story about a party where she stepped on the tablecloth, mistaken as rug, and her perception of the prejudices against black and women. Each chapter is an essay of a certain topic.

My favorite quotes are:
On Chapter 1 “Memory,” “I am convinced that most people do not grow up…. I think what we do is mostly growing old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias… We fee safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.” How true and beautifully put!

On Chapter 2 – “Philanthropy” After giving a smile to her own mother, she said, “I learned that I could be giver by simply bringing a smile to another person… I’m happy to describe myself as charitable.”

On Chapter 16 – “Eternal Silver Screen” “I came to understand that I can never forget where I came from. My soul should always look back and wonder at the mountains I had climbed and the rivers I had forged and the challenges which I still await down the road. I’m strengthened by that knowledge.”

On Chapter 25 – “Commencement Address” – “Of all your attributes, youth, beauty, wit, kindness, mercy, Courage is your greatest achievement, For you, without it, can practice no other virtue with consistency.”

Maya’s mother was a rich lady. In order to maintain her independence, she insisted on living within her means and not taking charity from her mother. This took a lot of courage, as she put it, “independence is a heady draft, and if you drink it in your youth it can have the same effect on the brain as young wine, … it is very addictive and with each drink the consumer wants more.”

In a way, Maya was lucky to have a loving family, a grandmother who brought her up in her childhood and taught her the basic value, a mother who provided for her and supported her even after giving birth to her son out of wedlock and thereafter, and of course a loving son, who never caused her to regret raising.

This is a wonderful, short book. Lots of wisdom is contained within.