Book Club: Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou
“Mom & Me & Mom” is the story of Maya Angelou’s personal relationship with her mother. Many women have special relationships with their mothers. But, with someone as famous as Maya Angelou, it is interesting to see how that relationship shaped her life and her writing.
The story is also relevant to the Sixty and Me community. Many women have lost their moms and are working through complex emotions, just like Angelou’s did.
Her mother, Vivian Baxter, was not around during her early childhood. When Vivian’s marriage collapsed, she sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother to live with her grandmother in Arkansas. As you might expect, the feelings of being abandoned stayed with Angelou for years and ten years passed before they met again.
Angelou’s famous book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” describes the ten years she spent with the grandmother, who raised her. In “Mom and Me and Mom”, Angelou turns her attention to the reconciliation with her mother. She talks about how love shifts and is redefined in a relationship shaped by this kind of separation and pain.
For me, the heart of the book is its focus on the concept of forgiveness. Angelou had to forgive her mother and also herself. She had to redefine their relationship so that she could value the things that connected, not separated, them. It’s about the healing and, eventually, love that developed between the two women over many years. There were many ups and downs.
The story delivers a message to all the women in the Sixty and Me Community who did not have a straight forward relationship with their mother. Mothers inspire and frustrate their children, and, in Angelou’s case, she was inspired by both the frustrations and tough times.
For all of her shortcomings, Angelou’s mother encouraged her to dream big. Even after Angelou had a child at the age of just 17, her mother pushed her ahead. The book ends with her mother’s death of lung cancer. It is touching that only then is Angelou ready to tell her mother the truth.
To kick things off, here are a few questions. Please add your thoughts in the comments:
Do you agree that a woman’s relationship with her mother is one of the most complicated?
What do you think was the real cause of Maya Angelou’s separation from her mother?
Did you have a relationship with your mother than got better as you became an adult?
Have you had to deal with an experience of abandonment and how did you overcome it?
Were you or someone you know raised by a grandparent? Are you raising a grandchild today?
What was the most poignant moment of the book for you?
Were there any parts of this book that made you angry?
Did Maya Angelou’s story change your opinion of her?
I hope that you enjoy this book! Please share your thoughts below.