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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya…

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

by Maya Angelou

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Maya Angelou's Autobiographies (1)

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10,086158409 (3.98)1 / 448

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Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
Never was assigned this as reading in high school or college; maybe it hadn't yet achieved that kind of status at that time. I finally read it on the recommendation of a 12-year-old (!) to complete a square on my summer reading bingo card ("Book recommended by a young person"). There is a salt-of-the-earth quality to Maya's memoir of growing up in Stamps, Arkansas. Events that would be stunning or shocking to others are treated with a tone of thoughtful matter-of-factness. Which makes the sexual assault by Mr. Freeman all the more devastating. Being a black American means understanding certainties about one's existence and Maya's narrative brings that to light in ways that are humorous, tragic and bittersweet. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Sep 3, 2018 |
This was a re-read for me and I enjoyed and appreciated it much more the second time round. Published in 1969 it is the first of a seven part autobiographical series. The book covers the first seventeen years of Maya’s life and has been described as autobiographical fiction, because there is far too much detail in the story telling (whole conversations are repeated verbatim) for it to be an accurate biography. She was over forty when she was encouraged to write her autobiography and while she based the story around the facts of her life she seems to have been more concerned about getting across what it felt like to be a black girl growing up in America before second world war and in this she has been very successful. My reading experience was one of looking over the shoulder of a person in an environment that I knew something about from other reading, but this biography filled out the picture. The book was a best seller in 1969 and garnered much critical acclaim.

Maya writes about her childhood in Stamps Arkansas, where segregation was a matter of course and then her later teen years in San Francisco, where racism was a little more subtle. She writes with painful honesty about a rape when she was eight years old, about her rose tinted vision of her father and to a certain extent her mother and about her own pregnancy at seventeen years old. Her naivety about sex is particularly well expressed and enables the reader to understand perfectly well how things happened to her the way they did. The book has important things to say about black female identity, racism, sex, religion, education and living conditions for black people in America in the 1930’s and these are assisted by the 40 year old authors reflections and story telling. This is an heartfelt autobiography dredged from the memories of an articulate and brave black woman written in a style that holds the readers attention. A deserved success and a book that feels as fresh to me as it did in the 1970’s. 4 stars. ( )
2 vote baswood | Aug 6, 2018 |
What else is there to say besides amazing. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is Maya Angelou’s first biography about her growing up in the segregated south and her time out of there in St. Louis and California. You feel her pain as she realizes more and more what it means to be a black woman. This is my first time reading anything by Maya Angelou and I can’t believe it took me so long to do so. She writes beautifully and very articulately about her experiences. No doubt it is a classic and should be read in schools nationwide. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Jul 9, 2018 |
Maya Angelou recounts her childhood years as an African-American during the depression era in the southern states of America, bringing to life some wonderful characters in Momma, her grandmother, and Uncle Willie. Her evocation of these times is rich. Despite the racism, her people manage to transmit love and pride throughout their community and lives. Now I want to read her sequel. ( )
1 vote HelenBaker | Jun 20, 2018 |
This is one of those books that I had been hearing about forever but never actually sat down to read. I wasn't entirely certain what I expected out of it in truth. Part of me thought it would be a book of poetry, as I primarily associate [a: Maya Angelou|3503|Maya Angelou|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1379017377p2/3503.jpg] with her poetry rather than prose, another part of me thought it was going to be mere fiction. I wasn't entirely wrong on either count, nor was I right. Instead, it was a little bit of both and a lot more of something entirely different.

This is the first in a series of autobiographies that [a: Maya Angelou|3503|Maya Angelou|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1379017377p2/3503.jpg] wrote over the course of her life. Each book, to my understanding, focusing on a different aspect of herself rather than necessarily just a different period. This book is her childhood, in all of its gory, beautiful, disturbing, and inspirational glory. This is a blunt, at times funny, at times chilling confession of what life was like growing up in the poor South black and a girl, what life was like in San Francisco an in better money. Just.. how things were.

I finished the book feeling a variety of things I didn't know how to put words to. There's a lyrical beauty to the book that is difficult to describe. It is part poetry, part gospel song, part oral tradition, and part something else entirely. It's reassuring and a bucket of cold water poured on your face. It's important, and not really a YA book though I keep seeing it referred to as such.

It's a strange book, but one I am glad I took the time to read and am glad so many others have as well. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maya Angelouprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rutten, KathleenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to my son
Guy Johnson,
and all the strong black birds of promise who defy the odds and gods and sing their songs
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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James Baldwin Writes:

This testimony from a Black sister marks the beginning of a new era in the minds and hearts and lives of all Black men and women...
I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity. I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood, when the people in books were more real than the people one saw every day, have I found myself so moved ...
her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death."

The Moving and Beautiful autobiography of a talented black woman. She continues her story in gather together in GATHER TOGETHER IN MY NAME, SINGIN' AND SWINGIN' AND GETTIN' MERRY LIKE CHRISTMAS and THE HEART OF A WOMAN.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553279378, Mass Market Paperback)

In this first of five volumes of autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence. Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learned a great deal from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit black community there. These very lessons carried her throughout the hardships she endured later in life, including a tragic occurrence while visiting her mother in St. Louis and her formative years spent in California--where an unwanted pregnancy changed her life forever. Marvelously told, with Angelou's "gift for language and observation," this "remarkable autobiography by an equally remarkable black woman from Arkansas captures, indelibly, a world of which most Americans are shamefully ignorant."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:44 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Presents the story of a spirited and gifted, but poor, black girl growing up in the South in the 1930's. Tells how she came into her own, experiencing prejudice, family difficulties, and a relationship with a teacher who taught her to respect books, learning, and herself. The moving and beautiful autobiography of a talented black woman. "I have no words for this achievement, but I know that not since the days of my childhood have I found myself so moved. Her portrait is a Biblical study of life in the midst of death".-James Baldwin.… (more)

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