Guest Author - Siobhain M Cullen
Maya Angelou’s latest book ‘Letter To My Daughter’ is a collection of inspirational letters, stories, readings and other biographical pieces offering her wisdom and advice to all of us ladies who have a daily struggle with raising challenging kids, giving birth in adverse circumstances, fighting for a break in a creative career or dealing with vulgarity such as racism or domestic repression. Dr Angelou says it is her offering to all of us – from one who has fought hard and prevailed, triumphant and fulfilled, at the end.
Inspirational stories and motivational self-help books often come from people much worse off than ourselves – people like famous author Maya Angelou- who have had to deal with gruelling personal circumstances in their childhoods or early lives and have lived to tell the tale. In many cases,such as that of fellow inspirational woman Josephine Baker, it has been the telling of the dreadful tale and the triumphant rise above it that is the springboard to fame and success. Like Maya Angelou, Josephine battled hurdles such as hurdles such as racism, victimization and exploitation before she could hold her head up high and say 'yes, I'm worth it.' She later went on to adopt vulnerable black children, and even adopted a son, Claude, when he waited on her table in a Paris hotel at the age of fourteen. He has now written a book about her colorful flamboyant life and her attempts to save him and other children like him.
Dr Angelou’s first offering ‘Home’ seems at first sight to explore the idea of ‘house and home’ but goes much deeper than that as it begins to probe the depths of the concept of ‘home’ in terms of identity, childhood and personality. Home, Maya seems to suggest, is inside each one of us, and if we are not ok with what we find there we will never be at peace wherever we live – whether we live close to our native origins or not.
Strangely prophetic in the light of Michael Jackson’s feelings about his own lost childhood and untimely death, Maya Angelou suggests that this inner ‘home’ or place where we feel joy and security, is laid down in the foundations of childhood. Dr Angelou takes issue with the famous quote that ‘you cannot take home with you’ and suggests that most of us are still children at heart. Humans, she seems to say, may go through the motions of ‘growing up’ but are still locked into the ‘psychological home’ they inhabited as shy children, and to where, as adults, they retreat in times of stress.
Letter To My Daughter is more than a book of motivational stories that will make you cry. A kaleidoscope of retrospect, memoir, poetry and wisdom the inspirational short stories may appeal to those readers who enjoy and derive solace from self-help books and testimonials, as well as those readers who are Maya Angelou fans, African American fiction devotees or students of women’s issues and fiction. It is set be a popular request for new book reviews.
This little volume of inspirational short stories also has lots of potential as a poignant and thoughtful gift for friends or co-workers who deserve some moral support and sympathy in the form of inspirational gifts. Gifts for mothers, gifts for daughters, gifts for co-workers and other recipients that are hard to buy for often have to be given from the heart and well-researched so the homely advice from Maya Angelou won’t disappoint.
Indeed the volume could be one of those gifts that change your life if you are suffering some kind of burden of stress. There is a lot there too, for the ordinary Joe or Josephine in the street – after all, the books should be interesting as, whoever we are, we were all children once!