Life in the Slow Lane

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Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou | A Review — June 25, 2014

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou | A Review

The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.

Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights.

(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)

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My Thoughts:

The seventh in her autobiographical series, Mom & Me & Mom takes Maya Angelou‘s reader into a never before touched on subject–the relationship between Angelou and her mother, Vivian Baxter.

In this poignant look at life with a mother who is the direct opposite of everything you see in yourself, Angelou shares stories of pain and hurt, responsibilities taken, reconciliation, and love and respect. Vivian Baxter was petite, but a definite force to be reckoned with; Angelou was always a larger than life woman physically but not as strong as Vivian, or “Lady,” as she came to call her mother.

At the tender age of three, Maya was sent to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with her grandmother. This decision rested on the deteriorating marriage Vivian found herself struggling to hold together. For a decade, Angelou fought feelings of abandonment. At this juncture, their reconciliation began and would become a turning point in Angelou’s life.

In this short volume, Angelou shares what has become the richest and most rewarding relationship of her life. Rooted in healing and love, Maya Angelou’s relationship with her mother took Angelou from “immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights.”

My Recommendation:

A longtime fan of Maya Angelou’s works, especially those of autobiographical nature, I highly recommend this work for anyone interested in reading autobiography, memoir and life stories and especially for those interested in writing same.

About Maya Angelou:

Dr. Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou is a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist.

Born on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Angelou was raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. In Stamps, Dr. Angelou experienced the brutality of racial discrimination, but she also absorbed the unshakable faith and values of traditional African-American family, community, and culture.

As a teenager, Dr. Angelou’s love for the arts won her a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco’s Labor School. At 14, she dropped out to become San Francisco’s first African-American female cable car conductor. She later finished high school, giving birth to her son, Guy, a few weeks after graduation. As a young single mother, she supported her son by working as a waitress and cook, however her passion for music, dance, performance, and poetry would soon take center stage.

In 1954 and 1955, Dr. Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. She studied modern dance with Martha Graham, danced with Alvin Ailey on television variety shows and, in 1957, recorded her first album, Calypso Lady. In 1958, she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet’s The Blacks and wrote and performed Cabaret for Freedom.

In 1960, Dr. Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt where she served as editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. The next year, she moved to Ghana where she taught at the University of Ghana’s School of Music and Drama, worked as feature editor for The African Review and wrote for The Ghanaian Times.

During her years abroad, Dr. Angelou read and studied voraciously, mastering French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti. While in Ghana, she met with Malcolm X and, in 1964, returned to America to help him build his new Organization of African American Unity.

To read the rest of Dr. Angelou’s bio, click here …

Book Details:
Published: April 02, 2013
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 224 (hard cover)
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6611-7

Click here to read an excerpt and here to read advance praise.

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