Maya Angelou: 'Mom & Me & Mom' explores a powerful mother-daughter dynamic

Maya Angelou's latest memoir tells of getting to know the mother whom she first called 'Lady' rather than 'Mom.' Maya Angelou is famous for her other autobiographical works, including 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.'

Nell Redmond/AP
Maya Angelou's newest book is 'Mom & Me & Mom,' which explores her complicated relationship with her mother.

Maya Angelou’s new book “Mom & Me & Mom” – released a month before this year’s Mother’s Day – focuses on her relationship with her mother.

The book by Angelou – the author and poet well known for her many autobiographies as well for her role at Bill Clinton’s 1993 presidential inauguration – discusses her life with her mother. Angelou and her brother were separated from their mother for many of their early years, living with their grandmother while their mother struggled with her marriage.

“Mom & Me & Mom” tells the story of how Angelou and her mother were able to reconnect later in life. Angelou told the Huffington Post that she realized recently how supportive her mother was of her.

“When teachers or people in authority put me down or in one way or another tried to make me feel less than equal to what they thought I should be – my mother was on my side,” she said.

“Mom & Me & Mom” was released on April 2. The writer’s other autobiographical works include perhaps the most well-known, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” as well as “The Heart of a Woman” and “A Song Flung Up to Heaven.”

Reviews of Angelou’s newest memoir have been mostly positive, with the Monitor’s books editor Marjorie Kehe writing that “admirers of Angelou’s now-classic memoir 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' will delight in this sequel.”

“Her memoir [is] both a tender read and a lovely tribute to the special gifts that only a mother can bring,” Kehe wrote.

Boston Globe writer Carmela Ciuraru agreed, writing that “page by page, Angelou’s story is astonishing.”

“There is a slightly frustrating lack of chronology in this book, and several odd lacunae in the narrative – but life is messy, and so is memory,” she wrote. “What matters is that 'Mom & Me & Mom' is a superb account of reconciliation, forgiveness, and survival.”

Fiona Sturges, a writer for The Independent, was also impressed.

“'Mom & Me & Mom' is a profoundly moving tale of separation and reunion, and an ultimately optimistic portrait of the maternal bond,” she wrote.

However, Bernardine Evaristo of The Observer found contradictions in details between “Caged Bird” and "Mom & Me & Mom" distracting.

“Memory, it seems, is a fickle, fictional, fantastical thing,” Evaristo wrote of differences in Angelou’s portrayal of her mother in the two books. “'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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