NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Maya Angelou shares her path to living well and with meaning in this absorbing book of personal essays.
Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter transcends genres and categories: guidebook, memoir, poetry, and pure delight.
Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters and taught her lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward, six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.
Whether she is recalling such lost friends as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a “lifelong endeavor,” or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice–Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.
Like the rest of her remarkable work, Letter to My Daughter entertains and teaches; it is a book to cherish, savor, re-read, and share.
“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
From the mellifluous voice of a venerable American icon comes her first original collection of writing to be published in ten years, anecdotal vignettes drawn from a compelling life and written in Angelou's erudite prose. Beginning with her childhood, Angelou acknowledges her own inauguration into daughterhood in "Philanthropy," recalling the first time her mother called her "my daughter." Angelou becomes a mother herself at an early age, after a meaningless first sexual experience: "Nine months later I had a beautiful baby boy. The birth of my son caused me to develop enough courage to invent my life." Fearlessly sharing amusing, if somewhat embarrassing, moments in "Senegal," the mature Angelou is cosmopolitan but still capable of making a mistake: invited to a dinner party while visiting the African nation, Angelou becomes irritated that none of the guests will step on a lovely carpet laid out in the center of the room, so she takes it upon herself to cross the carpet, only to discover the carpet is a table cloth that had been laid out in honor of her visit. The wisdom in this slight volume feels light and familiar, but it's also earnest and offered with warmth.