Gather Together in My Name

by Maya Angelou

Hardcover, 1974




Random House (1974), Edition: 1st, 224 pages


Biography & Autobiography. African American Nonfiction. Nonfiction. HTML:In this second volume of her poignant autobiographical series, Maya Angelou powerfully captures the struggles and triumphs of her passionate life with dignity, wisdom, humor, and humanity. â??A curiously heartening story in which decency, honor, truth, love do exist, imperfectly, fractionally and flickeringly, not in some Platonic realm of the ideal, but in the flawed lives of real men and women.â?ťâ??The Washington Post Gather Together in My Name continues Maya Angelouâ??s personal story, begun so unforgettably in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The time is the end of World War II and there is a sense of optimism everywhere. Maya Angelou, still in her teens, has given birth to a son. But the next few years are difficult ones as she tries to find a place in the world for herself and her child. She goes from job to jobâ??and from man to man. She tries to return homeâ??back to Stamps, Arkansasâ??but discovers that she is no longer part of that world. Then Mayaâ??s life takes a dramatic turn, and she faces new cha… (more)


½ (212 ratings; 3.9)

User reviews

LibraryThing member nessreendiana
Bought this one at the Dar Al Hekma College bookstore.
LibraryThing member ELCLBookclub
The book club discussed Maya Angelou's second autobiography and was amazed at the scope of Maya's life experiences in the two short years the book covers. She had an amazing array of jobs including waitress, cook, madam and prostitute. She had heartbreaking love affairs and lost her child for a
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short time. We were inspired by her courage and tenacity though wondered at a few of the choices she made.

The book left us wanting to find out how she got from that place in her life to the enormously successful accomplished woman she is today.
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LibraryThing member Jim53
In the second of Angelou's autobiographical novels, we see a young black woman with an emerging sense of her dignity and pride, but an almost incredible blind spot when it comes to men and what they will do for her. A compelling tale with a vivid narrator, well supported by forceful style of
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LibraryThing member whitewavedarling
While this installment doesn't hold the same humor as Angelou's first autobiography, it presents just as much entertainment and poetic movement. Covering her late teen years, Angelou's movement from childhood into the unsteady footfalls of a young woman is fascinating and full of heart just so much
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as the heartbreak you'd expect from those years. It also moves just so quickly as a novel, illustrating a talent for narrative pacing that has only grown since her first part, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Anyone who enjoyed the first portion will undoubtedly enjoy this second installment--what is lost with the childhood innocence of that first part is only gained with the ironic observations and hopes served up here. Absolutely recommended.
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LibraryThing member ValerieAndBooks
I could not put this book down. I read it in one day. The second in a series of autobiographies by Maya Angelou, "Gather Together in My Name" covers a shorter time frame (only about two years, but so much happened to her during that time) than "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". This installment
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begins shortly after the birth of her son when she was still just a teenager, and continues on with her struggles to support herself and her baby. Being young, she doesn't make very many good choices -- her taste in men at this time was appalling -- and often leaves her son with people she barely knew in order to try to make a living at a range of jobs that included restaurant cook, dancer, madam, and prostitute (the latter two for just short periods). It boggles the mind knowing that Angelou eventually became a highly acclaimed author (deservingly so, her prose is wonderful here although not quite as good as her first memoir) and poet. There is not yet any hint that she will take this path and I really want to continue this autobiographical series to find out when, where, and how it all "clicked" for her -- although I know it could not have been an overnight process.
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LibraryThing member Nataliec7
The second of Maya Angelou's autobiography. And it's a wonderful book. Her life by the young age of 20 had been so complex and she had experienced so much. Learning about her life and what she faced, gives hope that no matter what life throws at you, you can still make something of yourself.
LibraryThing member PilgrimJess
“Be the best of anything you get into. If you want to be a whore, it's your life. Be a damn good one. Don't chippy at anything. Anything worth having is worth working for.'

This is the second part of Angelou’s autobiography. It continues on from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings left off with
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Angelou giving birth of her son and leaving her grandmother in rural Arkansas to live in San Francisco. She is seventeen years old and the reader learns of her attempts to establish an independent life for herself and her son, taking a variety of low skill jobs including cook, waitress and perhaps most surprisingly of all as a brothel madam, her early love affairs including her ill-fated relationship with a married man. She is a precocious teenager who believes is tough enough to stand on her own two feet and she does often manage to get what she wants, at least in the short term, but it never lasts.

The title refers to all the mistakes that Angelou made in this period of her life and she certainly made some. As a single mother she had little option from working long, anti-social hours often leaving her son to be brought up by others and it is not until he goes missing does she acknowledge that she is little more than a child herself. She is naive and wants to believe in the best of others but this trust and desire to please often leads her down some very dark alleys, yet she never shies away from admitting to her mistakes.

Angelou’s life is undoubtedly extraordinary but never fantastical. She, like everyone else, learns that decisions made by ourselves and other people as well as forces outside of our control when we are young often affects our later life choices. The career paths that we set ourselves as teenagers can be deflected by unforeseen events meaning that the life that we actually live is often very different from the one we envisaged. This book is a fine example of that fact and also proves that sexual grooming is not a new phenomenon.
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LibraryThing member steller0707
There is nothing glossed over in this second installment of Maya Angelou's autobiography. It chronicles her late teen years, when her drive to provide for her son and her need to be provided for by someone else, someone who would love her, led her to participate in some sordid activities. She was
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trusting of the untrustworthy. I had to remind myself that this story eventually has a happy ending, though not in this book. As usual, the book is wonderfully written.
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LibraryThing member LibroLindsay
I have to admit, this was a strange read for me. There was something more perfunctory about this book than Caged mostly just careened from one episode to the next with little time for reflection. At times it had the most cringe-worthy moments. She was rather viciously homophobic when she
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exploited her lesbian friends, though she attributed it to wanting revenge (for something fairly innocuous), and I was worried I'd reach the end of the book before she realized how terrible L.D. was. But then I realized I'd found its beauty. This installment of her autobiographical series is uncomfortable...exactly as uncomfortable as it is to remember myself at her age. So naive and stubborn in thinking we know it all. Angelou is a better person than I because she had the courage to write it without letting hindsight soften the foolhardiness. And it being so episodic requires the reader to spend more time reading between the lines and not just rely upon an interpretation from Angelou. She is, indeed, a phenomenal woman.
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LibraryThing member maryreinert
Rita is a 19 year old with a baby who is trying to make a life for herself in the 1940's. She's smart, full of life, but extremely naive. She works as a cook, as a dancer, and is finally pulled into being a prostitute. The ending features a man who brings reality to her by shooting up with heroin.
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Sometimes funny, easy to read and Rita is a likeable character.
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LibraryThing member phoenixcomet
The second book of Maya Angelou's autobiography telegraphing her early life with her son, Guy and her making her way in this world as a short order cook, a madame, a sex worker, and a dancer. Her works depicts the racism experienced by Blacks in the 1940's United States and conveys just how
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difficult it was to be bright with no prospects except those that you make for yourself.
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LibraryThing member Lavender3
This book had me laughing and feeling so much. Her second installment is just a beautiful as the first. I felt I was seeing her not only grow in age but wisdom. And young maya was not the brightest. Things would happen to her that blew my mind. So many red flags that she was simply color blind to.
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I am excited to read the third autobiography to find out what is next for her, guy, her brother, and mother. Will she finally learn that writing is her gift? Will she have confidence in love in her self? I have no idea anything is possible in in the next five books.
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Best Fiction for Young Adults (Selection — 1974)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

224 p.; 5.9 inches


0394486927 / 9780394486925
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