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4.6 out of 5 stars
Letter to My Daughter
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208 of 214 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2008
"I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian and Spanish-speaking, Native American and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you," writes Maya Angelou in the introduction of her inspirational new book Letter to My Daughter. The following pages are full of stories and life lessons Angelou has learned over eighty years. "I have only included here events and lessons which I have found useful," the famous poet writes. "I have not told you how I have used the solutions, knowing you are intelligent and creative and resourceful and will use them as you see fit."

There are few books that I love so much I would read again. This is one of them. I got Angelou's Letter to My Daughter in the mail around 4 p.m. and finished it before bed. I read it to my children as they played, read it after they had gone to sleep, and far into the evening hours. Angelou's words were so poetic and musical I felt as if she were speaking directly to me. I learned of her best and worst moments in life, her ideas about love, death, violence, patriotism and spirituality. I really liked how she illustrated an important situation in her life without telling the reader what to take away from the scene.

My favorite story was when Angelou visited the famous actress Samia in Sengal. Angelou had heard that women in Egypt did not let their guests walk on their gorgeous Persian rugs and decided to test her hostess. She noticed the other guests at Samia's party were not stepping on the rugs and believed Samia had informed them not to do so. So Angelou walked on them, back and forth, back and forth. The other guests smiled at her weakly. Angelou engaged in a conversation with a fellow writer and barely noticed the maids rolling up the rug and replacing it with an equally beautiful floor covering. The maids covered the rug with place settings and dinner. Angelou had been walking all over their table cloth! She was so embarrassed she could barely eat. "In an unfamiliar culture, it is wise to offer no innovations, no suggestions, or lessons," Angelou wrote.

Here is one of my favorite paragraphs in the book: "You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution."

Letter to My Daughter is a gem of wisdom and inspiration. Every woman should read it at least once. This book has become a permanent fixture in my personal library.

by Jennifer Melville
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2008
This is the perfect book! At only 166 pages, it is short but every single page is filled with interesting stories and valuable advice. I recently read a quote that said, "Timid women don't make history." Maya Angelou lives her life boldly and with courage and has been making history for many decades. There are too many inspiring stories to mention them all but below are some of the lessons that I will carry with me as a source of inspiration.

* You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
* Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.
* Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.
* Never whine. Whining lets a brute know that a victim is in the neighborhood.
* Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking and you might find a new solution.
* Be charitable. Being charitable doesn't always involve a monetary gift; you can be charitable with a smile and a kind word.
* Kids make mistakes; its ok to love them through it
* When you are genuinely proud of your children, you give them permission to be proud of themselves.
* Miracles can happen through prayer.
* When people ask, "How are you?" have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully.
* A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face.
* Each of us must care enough for ourselves, that we can be ready and able to come to our own defense when and wherever needed.
* You are never too old to find true love.

Ms. Angelou advises that Courage is our greatest attribute. Read, enjoy, be inspired and be courageous!
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2008
Wonderful book - it was a quick read with several short stories. I want to know more, more, more....what happened after lessons - Maya tells you the story, but not her lesson learned. I also almost see it as a testament of her life and her goodbye book - you feel the wisdom, age, and desire to pass it on before it's too late. As soon as I finished it, I started reading it again....I think this book will become a reference guide of sorts for me.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2009
This was not a terrible read, but certainly deja vu. I've read all these stories in one form or another somewhere else. I expected this advice for "daughters", to be about lessons that Angelou want to pass on the women. Instead, the book is a memoir which is broken into small short stories. I enjoyed reading the stories (again) but i felt duped. the recyling of these stories is not what i'd expect from Angelou. I wanted something fresh and new; this book did not deliver.
For the reader who has never read Angelou's novels, these stories will be refreshing and wonderful.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2008
I have never heard of or read the writings of anyone with the honesty and creativity of the one who penned this book. Yes, I knew she was creative because I heard the poem she wrote for Bill Clinton's inauguration. Yes, I knew her presence on that platform meant she walked with, even if she didn't keep company with, the elite and powerful. But it was only when I read this book that I knew her humility and grandeur as a human being and poet. Her biography says she is more -- a cook, a funeral 'preacher,' professor, musician, accomplished linguist -- in short, to purloin her words, "a national spirit." Maybe even "a national treasure" worth so much that Fort Knox would have to risk poverty!

If you ever start, I am willing to wager that you will finish this book in open-mouthed wonder and will try to put it aside to savor this feast of words strung together like pearls in a necklace. Even when you are sated -- with, maybe, a full stomach or belly, as she would have said, of "glistening red rice," you are still going to hold the words in your mind and heart and mouth since all three will be so full that receiving more will be impossible.

If you are getting my drift by now then you are probably guessing that I am recommending it. But I am not. I'm suggesting that you run to the nearest bookstore, even if it is 5 miles away, buy "Letter to My Daughter," sit down at the nearest spot and read, read, read!!! That's all I have to say.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2008
Dr. Angelou really captured me with this one. I received it and immediately read through the entire book. Her testimonies made me laugh, cry, and think about life in some new ways. I have already given it as a gift to a close friend. You are sure to enjoy it!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2008
Best yet ever by Maya Angelou!
This book is for the daughters who have experienced weakness for a man that you know is not good for the soul; for the daughters who find that love for a child is undescribable in that you love them passionately like nothing else in the world no matter what they do; for the daughters that have experienced emotional and physical abuse at the hands of someone that says they "love you" (GET OUT after you have a plan in place); for the daughters that have found her true soulmate (oh what a joy it is).

Read A Letter to My Daughters and buy a copy or 500 for your closest friends at Christmas or birthday.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2008
Maya Angelou has been an important voice for many years and readers have gotten used to the fact that each of her books opens for them new perspectives. Angelou uses a variety of genres but her wisdom and wit fill each of the volumes she penned.
This book is no different - the essays combine to draw a very personal view of the world. This is a view as seen by a woman, a mother - it is warm, human, and private. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes sad - what they always share is honesty and wisdom.
When you can listen to a wise person, you should not miss the chance. It is a very good sign for the American reading audience that such a "difficult" book made it to the top of bestsellers list. There are very few people such as Maya Angelou - their voices should be listen to very attentively.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2009
I read this book in two short sittings. I adore Maya Angelous's style and I think she is an inspiring individual. I love the concept of this book, that we as the readers get to be her "daughters" and learn from her lessons. I gave this four stars only because I wish it were longer.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 23, 2009
I found this book to be a waste of my time -- except that it reminded me how interesting the author's life is and how well she tells about it in her autobiographical books. I gave this as a gift to a young woman before I read it and now regret that gift. I should have given a nice hardback of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" or another of the earlier books. These short tales from her life do not cohere into one book, and they certainly don't contain the depth of life lesson that I expected (and that I had gotten from her other writings). So despite the beautiful color and the surprisingly positive reviews others have given, I say you should skip this book and read one of her others.
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