Biography & Memoir Mom & Me & Mom

Published on April 24th, 2013


Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

Anyone who’s read the classic, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, knows Maya Angelou was raised by her paternal grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou details what brought her mother to send her away and unearths the well of emotions Angelou experienced long afterward as a result. While Angelou’s six autobiographies tell of her out in the world, influencing and learning from statesmen and cultural icons, Mom & Me & Mom shares the intimate, emotional story about her own family. Published by Virago

Maya Angelou: my terrible, wonderful mother

The Independent

Fiona Sturges

As in her previous books, these tales are told with clear-sightedness and an absence of self-pity, and they are no less grim for their familiarity. Angelou has never been one for florid prose, and here she maintains a precise and economical style which makes these bleak moments more vivid, like a film from which you can’t look away … a profoundly moving tale of separation and reunion, and an ultimately optimistic portrait of the maternal bond.”


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The Daily Express

Aline Reed

Inspiring … We see how an extraordinary mother helped mould an extraordinary daughter with one powerful ingredient: love.”


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The Financial Times

Ayana Mathis

How to approach the memory of a figure as towering as Baxter? How to discuss her within the confines of narrative? Angelou’s approach in Mom & Me & Mom verges on mythopoesis. Baxter’s grandeur, and she does have an Auntie Mame immensity, is elevated to supernatural inevitability: Lady is Lady, like the weather is the weather and the gods are the gods. We may not get an explanation for their caprice, but that’s because they are above questioning. I found this strategy a bit cagey. But Angelou’s book deftly avoids the emotional neatness and easy redemption to which lesser memoirs succumb.”


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The Times

Janice Turner

It is an unsparing portrait. Lady is violent, swiping the toddler Maya off the porch when she impatiently taps her hand, then later battering her teenage face with a heavy key chain. And her selfishness in giving up Maya and her brother Bailey, so she could make her own living but also pursue love-affairs is never wholly forgiven. (It is the root cause, Angelou suggests, of Bailey’s drug addiction.) But whatever the emotional legacy, Lady is a rare and daring spirit in a pre-civil rights America.”


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The Sunday Times

Sian Griffiths

To the average Sunday Times reader, the casual violence that the black American writer and poet Maya Angelou describes in this memoir of life with her mother is startling … Angelou’s works have been described, sometimes waspishly, as both autobiography and autobiographical fiction. Whichever this is, it’s an extraordinary tale.”


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The Observer

Bernadine Evaristo

Unfortunately, this is a slight, anecdotal and badly edited book that rehashes stories from previous memoirs. Angelou’s autobiographies, which are sold as her true life story, have always reproduced lengthy conversations verbatim, and in the case of this new memoir, from up to 70 years ago. If we accept that this isn’t humanly possible, it begs the question, when does autobiography become autobiographical fiction? This is further complicated when Angelou not only revisits earlier stories but, on occasion, contradicts them … I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was a ground-breaking triumph. Mom & Me & Mom does a good job of undermining it.”


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