“I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native Americans and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you.”
–from Letter to My Daughter
With eloquence, prose and acerbic wit, Maya Angelou lures you in with this collection of poems, short essays and musings reminding us again why America has revered her as one of its best.
Reading this book is like getting a big hug on a bad day. To my fellow 20-somethings, I dare to assume most of us would like to be gently advised by those who've gone before us. That's precisely how I felt as I read "Letter to my Daughter." I bashfully imagined Maya Angelou inviting me in for a warm cup of tea and deeming me worthy of hearing her innermost thoughts. This isn't a collection of stories told for her readers' entertainment. Rather it is a collection of personal accounts written in various forms to authentically capture Angelou's trials and triumphs.
I laughed, I cried, I gasped and "yasssss" all up and through this book! (don't judge me. I'm the sentimental type lol) This is a quick read and once done I'd marked something in almost very chapter.
Although Angelou is no longer with us, this book reminded me once again of the power of words and that there are many more pieces of this literary giant's work to savor.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this read:
"I promise you, you do not want me as your adversary because, once I feel myself under threat, I fight to win, and in that case I will forget that I am thirty years older than you, with a reputation for being passionate. Then after the fray, if I see I have vanquished you I would be embarrassed that I have brought all the pain, brought all the joy, brought all the fear, and the glory that I have lived through, to triumph over a single woman who did not know that she should be careful of who she calls out and I would not like myself very much. And if you bested me, I would be devastated and might start to throw things" (103)
“Let's tell the truth to people. When people ask, 'How are you?' have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know, however, that people will start avoiding you because, they, too, have knees that pain them and heads that hurt and they don't want to know about yours. But think of it this way: If people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you.”
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud. Do not complain. Make every 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.”
“I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow 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 may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.”
“One person, with good purpose, can, constitute the majority.”