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I Hear the Black Raven: A Petite Memoir


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An outstanding exploration of self, in the most gentle of ways. Delightful expression reveals beauty born of wisdom.

I Hear the Black Raven is a work of grace. Its charm lies in its appealing structure as much as in its content. Varying moods include the haunting foreshadowing in the poems, the narration of the memoir sections, and the allegory of the black raven segments with their dreamlike, fairytale quality: these passages are particularly arresting.


The author’s distinct identities are introduced as the cast of a play. Themes of her life are then explored, each one covering key events that have “directly or indirectly” determined her course. Claire states, “we are all starring in our own personal … feature film”: which genre fits your life, overall and/or right now?


This book details with lucidity the different stages along the wide spectrum of Bipolar I. Ayetoro is tender in her depiction of how her illness affected her, as well as the people around her who supported her in many ways. Despite the sometimes-horrific experiences, the telling is not without humour: “I’ve noticed that there are at least two perks to having a mental illness: I get to use mind-altering drugs legally, and I get to take frequent breaks from reality.”


For those who know depression, paranoia and manic behaviour from lived experience (within Bipolar I or other conditions), Claire’s writing acts as a mirror, validating those situations in its reflection. “Bipolar disorder is a beast, and without treatment, it can tear a life to shreds”, she writes from the calmer space of hindsight.


Cultural associations involving ravens are explored: Ayetoro’s black raven is neither protector nor harbinger of doom; rather, it is the metaphor of her growing self-awareness and self-acceptance – intertwined with the symbolism of her name. Ayetoro urges the reader to “listen to the raven”: it is the conduit to greater personal enrichment. She encourages the reader to delve deeper into their own psyche, questioning, “What if the insight we needed was actually there, but because of our closed-mindedness, it was completely missed? … How much more would we personally evolve?”


This delightful “petite memoir” is an expression of compassion, by someone who understands that “every experience in life is just that: an experience” which is neither good nor bad. Each moment can be “a growth opportunity or a chance to pivot”. Such openness reveals the beauty of wisdom born of reckoning, without becoming sentimental.


I Hear the Black Raven is a compelling read for anyone who has ever experienced life outside their comfort zone, then tried to find their way back home.

Reviewed by

Proud to be the author of TWO published books! New release October 2021, in print and ebook form. My books feature my poetry and art, and depict my journey through depression and into wellness. I'd love to know what you think of my work: feel free to ask me questions or write a review.

Break to Freedom

About the author

Claire is an African-American author and a creative at heart, born in the southern hills of Mississippi. When she is not writing, she can be found catering to Rupert (the family cat), daydreaming about warm spring days and cool fall nights, and whistling. view profile

Published on June 25, 2021

Published by Equal Age

30000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Reviewed by