I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

This is an autobiography of the first years of Angelou's life, from ages 4 to 16. It starts with her first memories - being shipped off to live with her grandmother in the country - and ends with her first experience of adulthood. Brilliant, so bright with hope and beauty that it makes my eyes hurt. Breathtakingly honest. I don't know how she did it. It must hurt so much to bare onself so deeply. I know people do it. Working with speakers, I can feel that the good ones are good because they are honest with themselves about their pain and can share that with the audience. But this stuff, this childhood stuff, it's harder than hard. I don't think anyone sheds that sense of secret shame about childhood misery, about things done to or by your young, oh-so-vulnerable self. I am awed by her ability to rip open her breast and show me her heart. Thank you, Maya.

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