Maya Angelou: Letter to my daughter


Hope you’re having a lovely afternoon so far. Today I will be doing a book review as it’s very long overdue on my blog. I will be doing a review on Maya Angelou’s Letter to My Daughter, which is a part of her 3 essay series that she has written. I had heard of Angelou’s work here and there, but didn’t take the action to actually read one of her novels till I snatched it off from my older sister one day, like a couple of years back. From then on I’ve been happily enjoying her novels and the way in which she writes them.

Before I get down to my thoughts on the Letter to My Daughter, I’ll give you a quick run down on who Maya Angelou is and a little on her background. Angelou was an talented African American woman who showed that women truly can excel in anything; Angelou was a singer, poet, civil rights activist, memoirist and a mother. She was born in April 1928 and died at the age of 86 in 2014. Angelou is well known for her themes surrounding family, identity and most importantly race.

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

Her words resonates into the hearts of many women as she speaks of her own experiences and they way in which she overcame them. This theme is highly prominent throughout the Letter to My Daughter and its this sharing which captivates her readers (it did for me anyways). The book is split into 28 chapters, with each telling it’s own unique story that both entertains and teaches.

“Make it an effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”

What I liked the most about her essay was the way in which the words she used and was reflecting on, could be transferred to some aspects of my own life. Having a writer that speaks of the similar experiences of a woman and of a woman of colour, makes me feel homely with her writing. There are experiences which you cannot know how to understand unless you have gone through them yourself. I think that Angelou knew this and she knew how to incorporate the lessons for that experience in an intellectual way. The Letter to My Daughter can be said to be a short essay which teaches and empowers women of the world by adopting them to become her ‘daughters’; whom are gathered to be given advice on life through a guidebook-ish perspective. It truly felt as though she was giving me a piece of wisdom which is meant to be treasured and thought about.

I can say that the Letter to my Daughter essay is on my top 3 favourite Maya Angelou’s written pieces. This is mainly due to the way I enjoyed reading her own personal experiences and felt as though I was getting a life lesson at the same time whilst reading it. I understand why the piece was renowned as ‘a manual for life’, because from the onset you get that vibe from the chapters.

If you’re interested on reading more on Angelou, I recommend you take a look at her autobiography series; you get a creatively more personal viewpoint of her. This is the chronological order of her series:

  • I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing
  • Gather Together in My Name
  • Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas
  • The Heart of a Woman
  • All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes
  • Mom & Me & Mom
  • Rainbow in the Cloud

Do you have a favourite book from an author that you accidentally stumbled upon? Or have you perhaps read one of Maya Angelou’s work in the past? The comments section is open for anyone that would like to share.

Yours Truly,

Melanin Talks x



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