Having finished the last volume of Angelou’s full autobiography, “A Song Flung up to Heaven“, in December, Meg and Ali and I continued on to this one, the last prose book in our box sets, “Mom & Me & Mom”, published in 2013 and taking a specific view of Angelou and her mother. Ali’s review is here.

Maya Angelou – “Mom & Me & Mom”

(April 2021)

Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the world love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.

This book has been written to examine some of the ways love heals and helps a person to climb impossible heights and rise from immeasurable depths. (Prologue)

This book specifically takes Angelou’s relationship with her strong and doughty mother and revisits many of the episodes we’ve read in the memoirs before, but often taking a slightly different, and very often more understanding, viewpoint on them, as well as adding in extra scenes from those first 41 years and taking us all the way to her mother’s death, written in the year before her own passing. Vivian comes over as a more sympathetic character; she understands she could not have raised small children, passing Maya and Bailey off to her mother in law to be raised, and acknowledges the strength she showed and passed on to her children. Her and Bailey’s very different relationships with their mother are also highlighted.

There are photographs included in this book, which I don’t remember having seen in the other volumes, which add a lovely touch and also somehow legitimise the words in the book (I’ve seen the other volumes described as fictionalised memoir, not a description I particularly agree with, although of course I don’t know all the facts of her life, but having photos roots it back in truth). It was good to get a glimpse of what happened to Maya after the end of the straight memoirs and it was also lovely to see Vivian’s relationships with her several husbands brought out, including the last one, who seemed to have a lovely fatherly relationship with Maya.

It’s a lovely and lyrical book, and she pays tribute to Vivian’s strength, love and support in a way that doesn’t always come through in the other books (where she’s still strong, but a bit scary, maybe); she describes how she “fills a gap” and protects her automatically. I’m really glad I was able to read this one.

We have a volume of poems next, last in the box-set (then I have a celebration volume and three volumes of essays to read, hooray!). I’m not the biggest poetry reader so I might do one per evening for a while …

This was TBR Challenge 2021-22 Quarter 2 Book 8/53 – 45 to go!