Biography & Autobiography. African American Nonfiction. Nonfiction. HTML:Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned. Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read. “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.”—James Baldwin.
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 1930â€™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 1970â€™s. 4 stars.
Odd that the homeless children, the silt of the war frenzy, could initiate me into the brotherhood of man. After hunting down unbroken bottles with a white girl from Missouri, A Mexican girl from Los Angeles and a Black girl from Oklahoma, I was never again to sense myself so solidly outside the pale of the human race. The lack of criticism by our ad hoc community influenced me, and set a tone of tolerance for the rest of my life.
Note though how Angelou capitalized "Black" but put "white" in lowercase. That is used throughout the book--even after she claimed to have learned tolerance and respect for the whole human race.
It's not all that disturbed me about the book. There's a lot of frank sexual content, including a graphic description of her rape at eight years old. I think what caused disquiet there was how nonchalantly, even lyrically, Angelou described the assault. Part of the problem might be that although she would have been 41 at the time the book was published, she kept herself to the point of view of the young child who just didn't understand really what had been done to her. It made for unsettling reading.
Were there aspects of the book I liked, aspects of Angelou that I found admirable? Sure. I loved her story of how she persevered and became "hired as the first Negro on the San Francisco streetcars" as a teen not even yet out of high school. I loved the story of the grandmother who raised her, who managed to run a successful business and owned property during the Great Depression--in the segregated South despite being a black woman. And you certainly can see in the prose why Angelou is a celebrated poet. Much of the writing truly is beautiful. But no, I can't honestly say I liked this book--that's why my rating is so low.
When you read this book, you'll find that the autobiographical details carefully reveal several strategies that enabled
Now I know that people rave about the book, but to me it was just okay. The writing, as I noted, was very good, and I almost had the feeling that I was reading a novel. The major problem with reading any autobiography is that true memories are often filtered through the eyes of others -- and I often caught myself wondering things like "how could a kid that age actually remember what she felt at that particular time?"
Overall, just okay, but recommended.
I think it would be fair to say that this is one of the most legendary autobiographies of all time, right? And if not, it certainly should be. It's definitely one of those books that so much has been said about that it's not as though I can add
As painful as this book sometimes was, it was impossible to put down. I'm so glad I finally picked this book up.
In conclusion, I have to say that this book is well worth the time for both young readers and adults, and should be entertaining for all. Without a doubt, women readers might relate more easily, but this is one of those few books that I could easily recommend to any reader at all, for varying reasons. I can't say whether the installments of her memoir that don't look back on her childhood will be quite so endearing or wonderful--specifically because the innocence and humor of her childhood are such wonderful hallmarks of this work--but I'll certainly try them.
This story was
This is the first memoir in a series of six which together formed Angelouâ€™s autobiography. In this work she chronicles her childhood from about age three to age 17. She begins when she and her brother, Bailey Jr (one year her senior) were sent to live with their
This is a wonderfully told first-hand account of a young womanâ€™s awakening and coming of age, as well as of the changes brought about in the country. Angelou writes with brutal honesty about her experiences and recounts with poetic grace the pitfalls and triumphs of her young life. There are some sections that are difficult to read, and I can only imagine how difficult there were to live through. For the most part, however, it is a wonderful testament to the love and dedication of strong parents (or parental figures) and the power of education to lift us up. She was an extraordinary woman, and this is an extraordinary memoir.
I am not always a fan of authors who read their own works for audiobooks. Angelouâ€™s voice is low pitched and her pace is slow and deliberate. But she is able to suffuse the performance with emotion in such a way that I cannot imagine anyone else doing a better job of it.
The early life was more engaging and less rushed, the hardships of the world of Southern States blacks during the 1930s and 1940s is compellingly drawn, as is the attitude of young Maya Angelou to the world around her. Her world revolved around her Grandmother's store and her neighbours are acutely described. This is also a very intimate memoir of her family, and in particular of the older brother who meant everything to her. The sheer otherness of the whites, who rarely intruded into her early life, is beautifully described. This is a book about the triumph of the will.
She's such a rare woman, a rare human being, that her words leap off the page and straight into your brain. This book must be read to truly understand her struggles and triumphs, her life and her decisions. While many parts are difficult to read in this 21st century atmosphere, it's important to remember things like she describes happened and still happen everywhere, in every country, in every town. This is the type of book you can't forget after you read it. She's the type of person you can't forget after you've seen her.