Published by Random House Publishing Group on July 21st 2010
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, General
Buy on Amazon
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
From the Paperback edition.
I still don’t know why the caged birds sing but I really loved this book. At first, I had some apprehension about reading an autobiography or biography in general. Why would I want to read the mundane events of someone else’s life? But it was surprisingly good.
Some of the things that made this story more interesting to me had to do with the setting and time. The most I know about Black American history is what I see in movies. As a non-American that’s mostly our only exposure. It was refreshing to get an insider’s view, although I must admit that there was little of some of those scary stories I have come to expect.
There were a few parts of the story that were a bit too ordinary and boring for me, but it was really great learning what Angelou’s experiences were as a child. It goes to show how different things were then. Children were very sheltered.
One conversation between her and her brother when they were about 8 and 9 was particularly funny. Especially because this was a conversation related to an adult conversation they eavesdropped on. They repeated it and gave their opinion on it even though they didn’t know what “IT” was.
Angelou was more “well off” than others in her community. Her grandmother owned her own grocery store which managed to survive during the great depression due to her grandmother’s ingenious entrepreneur skills.
The story runs up till Angelou graduates from high school. During this time she and her brother go from living with their grandmother to living with their mother, back to living with their grandmother and then eventually living with their mother again.
I really didn’t want to touch on the controversial topic that was covered in the book but after reading some other reviews I must say that it really isn’t as “bad” as others make it out to me.View Spoiler » The author recounts the memories of being raped as an 8 year old. People make it seem like it was so detailed and traumatic to them but I assure you that it was wayyyy more traumatic to the 8 year old in the story. She recounts it as a child and basically doesn’t even know what happened to her. But we know. It’s sad yes. And upsetting yes. But let’s not make it about us the readers. It’s simply a recount of true events that happened to the author. I think we should respect that she had the courage to share this traumatic experience with us. I am glad that she didn’t pretend that it didn’t happen just because it would be easier for some people to pretend that it never happens. « Hide Spoiler
Anyway, I actually found it refreshing that this story was from a different perspective than I was used to. And Angelou was a very smart, openminded, determined child. I admire that the most about her.