Have you read this book? It’s one of those ‘classics’ that always ends up on ‘books you should read’ lists but until a month ago or so I knew nothing about it apart from it being written by the very incredible and quote-worthy Angelou, and that it was one of those ‘you should read this’ books. But I hadn’t read it, so I finally got around to picking it up at the local library, to try to ‘cross it off’ the one day list.

I will never forget this book.

I may forget the details or parts of the storyline but I don’t know that I’ll ever shake the feeling that this book brought me to; the way it snuck up around me and made me feel. Like really, really, feel. Aside from being a woman, I don’t think there’s too much in the way of similarities between myself and Angelou, but this book was so expertly, beautifully crafted that I couldn’t help but be drawn in to the world of the central voice – that of Angelou herself.

I adored the crafting of a memoir or autobiography with the literary techniques of a piece of fiction; the blend of metaphor and elegant use of language with the recollection of real events. Some autobiographical works are so factual as to lose the reader because they don’t draw the reader in to feel; this work could never be accused of that.

Angelou’s depiction of her rape at a young age makes this a confronting read, and not at all for the youngest of readers; but the themes of freedom and independence and power and control and most importantly, dignity, make this book such an incredible and important piece of literature, full stop.

If you answered ‘no’ to my first question, go now. Read it today. It really is that important, even now, so long after it was first published.

What’s the lesson? I want to always remember to value the freedoms I regularly take for granted; to remember that I am only caged if I let myself feel caged. I am fortunate.

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