Review: A Song Flung Up To Heaven by Dr Maya Angelou.

Before reading A Song Flung Up to Heaven, I had only read the beloved I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This was after I had found her poetry online, seen her in movies and watched her beautiful poetry videos. I read this right after watching her Netflix documentary, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise three times. Yes, three times. This book is the sixth in her autobiography series.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven begins with Dr Angelou returning to the States from Ghana, where she is leaving her son behind, and a husband she is separated from. She’s returning to work with Malcolm X at his foundation, the OAAU, but not long after her return and before she’s even had the opportunity to meet up with him, Malcolm is killed. Dr Maya shares her pain and grief, and the disappointment she had at people for their inaction.

Malcolm X. Image: This is Africa

She takes us from San Francisco after hearing the news, to Hawaii where she realises that singing for convenience does not help. She then leads us back to LA where we see how the American system seeps into the lives of black folks. As her story progresses we discover how her writing journey unfolds and we meet all the incredible people who helped her along the way, such as James Baldwin. Another tragedy finds her when just as she prepares to move to New York to go work with Martin Luther King, she receives the news that he has been killed.

Martin Luther King. Image: Brandeis

It’s Dr Angelou’s openness and honesty about her life that makes for such as wonderful read. I love her stories because of how they leave me when I’m done. She was a black woman, who had so many obstacles, tribulations, grief, and disappointments but she chose to confront the world with a different attitude. It’s inspiring. Her story also lets us in on the American people and what they went through, but not in a depressing fashion. Her intelligence and exuberant personality shine through in this account of her life. It’s incredible. It ends with her starting the first sentence of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Perfect!


Title: A Song Flung Up to Heaven

Author: Maya Angelou

Published: 2002, Random House

Genre: Autobiography

Kevin Hart’s journey is not all jokes in ‘I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons’

When I saw this on the shelf I had my doubts about it. I thought it would be another celebrity using their status to dip into the literary pool to push their career. I read the first few pages and it promised to prove me wrong.

Kevin’s story begins when his mother tells his dad she didn’t want another child, but he does come along – the unwanted child. After his father moves out it’s him, his brother and their mother in their cramped apartment. His older brother soon follows his father’s footsteps in the streets but eventually joins the Army. Kevin’s childhood is under the control and strict rule of his mother, who does all these things to avoid the same mistakes his father and first born made. These are things he will later be grateful for.

Kevin Hart takes us through all the twists and bends of his life path. His journey to being top comedian and hilarious actor that we see on screen was not the easiest at all. He shares the hard times; doing small gigs with little pay, being around other comedians who were doing well but not yet considered ready for their world, a messed up relationship with the mother of his first two kids which eventually ended in divorce, being broke and many more. He demonstrates the ups and downs in true Kevin Hart style, hilarious without losing the authenticity of his story. There’s inspiration to draw from this book, a lot about perseverance and the choices we make in how we respond to what life throws at us.

“In life, you can choose to cry about the bullshit that happens to you or you can choose to laugh about it. 

I choose laughter.” 

― Kevin Hart

It’s a clear and simple read. From it you can learn how effective looking at the world in a different way and seeing and writing your own life as different chapters to learn and grow from. The book is certainly not another Kevin Hart standup show, it’s his life, bare and raw. There’s a lot to learn about survival, pushing through the struggle and success.