Thursday 11 November 2010

Letter To My Daughter by Maya Angelou

I picked this up from my local library as I need something easier after ploughing through Arabian Nights.   I hadn't read any Angelou before (although I own I Know why the Caged Bird Sings) but had only heard good things about her and her writing.  I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a sucker for a good cover too.

Synopsis: Part autobiography, part politics and part essays, in this collection Maya Angelou writes to all her 'daughters', young women around the world.  She covers a diverse range of topics and even includes some poetry.

Score: 3 out of 5

It's not that I didn't enjoy reading this - I did - it's just that this particular collection felt hashed together at the last minute and self-indulgent.  I was very interested in the concept of Angelou writing in particular to young women and was honestly expecting the main focus to be women's issues and being a woman.  Although there was some of that, most of the collection could easily have been called "Letter to My Children".

There was a distinct lack of organisation too.  Each mini-essay was well written but they seemed to be thrown together in a random order with no attention paid to overall themes or messages.  It read a bit like essays from other sources had been cobbled together in a collection in order to make money.  The editors had also bulked out the book considerably by giving the title of each essay a page of it's own, with the consequence that I read this book very easily in one evening.

Despite all these criticisms, I've given this book a 3 out of 5 because I liked Angelou's writing and felt like she did have a lot of important things to say.  And if I had gotten my hands on this at the age of 18 or 19, I probably would have got even more out of it.  The basic thread running through all of her writing seemed to be acceptance, politeness and hope, and I can't argue with that.  I'm also now looking forward to reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.


  1. I loved I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was one of my favorite reads when I was in middle school.

  2. @Katherine Kuzma-Beck
    I'm really looking forward to reading it. I hope I enjoy it as much as I think I will!

  3. Oh I'd love to read some more Maya Angelou! She's an amazing woman. You must read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, it's fantastic... I've not read Letter to my Daughter but none of the things you describe here really apply to anything else of hers I've read, maybe this is just poorly compiled or something. Also, check out her youtube video where she reads 'Rise', it's my all-time favourite youtube clip and SO inspirational.
    Just come across your blog for the first time!

  4. Wonderful book - it was a quick read with several short stories. I want to know more, more, more....what happened after lessons - Maya tells you the story, but not her lesson learned. I also almost see it as a testament of her life and her goodbye book - you feel the wisdom, age, and desire to pass it on before it's too late. As soon as I finished it, I started reading it again....I think this book will become a reference guide of sorts for me.

    Marlene Detierro (Dallas Local SEO)

  5. Letter to My Daughter is a gem of wisdom and inspiration. Every woman should read it at least once. This book has become a permanent fixture in my personal library.

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