I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
There are books you enjoy and books you love. Then there are books that so deeply impact your very soul you are a different person to the one that started reading the initial page.
That is how I feel about Dr Maya Angelou and the first book in her seven volume autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I read this as a teen and was changed irrevocably. Maya Angelou was the most inspirational, powerful figure but the beginning of her life was mired in trauma and chaos.
The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother go to live with their grandmother in Arkansas, and ends when Maya becomes a mother at the tender age of 16. Maya changes through the book, from a victim of assault, neglect and racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice who goes on to become a leader of the civil rights movement.
When I read this book I realised that if she could overcome the immense hurdles and challenges in her life with such resilience and grace, I could do anything. Maya has become a figure of strength for people worldwide, her poetry (Still I Rise is my ultimate favourite poem ever) and writing is globally recognised and she won a huge amount awards, honorary degrees and praise. Her legacy and indomitable spirit continue to flourish and help others through her words that still move and change readers.