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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings [Mass Market Paperback]

Maya Angelou
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (267 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 21 2009
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, first published in 1969, 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 Hardcover edition.

Frequently Bought Together

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings + Letter to My Daughter + The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou
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Product Description

From Amazon

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." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

If your originals of these two popular titles (LJ 9/1/78, LJ 3/15/70, respectively) have seen better days, these reprints offer affordable, high-quality replacements.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
"WHEN I was three and Bailey four, we had arrived in the mustly little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed-""To Whom It May Concern""-that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o " Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An adult review--and one teacher's viewpoint June 8 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
May I tell you why I choose to have my ninth grade students read it? I have noticed a lot of reviews by young people, which I applaud, but an adult perspective might be helpful.
I don't particularly feel the need to defend its merits. (I am not articulate enough to do justice to that task.) As with any book, some will love it and some won't. Guaranteed, it will make you uncomfortable at times, because one chapter describes the rape of a young person--which is painful for any compassionate human being to hear. Plus, there are other sexual issues, largely stemming from the earlier assault, but also because she is a teenager in the last phase of the book. Such questions about love and sex are characteristic of the teenage years. Many young people, as well as adults, are confused about such topics. While these are generally the most controversial segments from the book, the fundamental lesson of the book goes far beyond the survival of one victim. I won't supply you with the answers as to what one should take away from the text. It is a personal experience for each of us.
We can all learn from Maya's honest account of her childhood journey. We can all try on her experiences and live vicariously through her for a while, and see how it changes our own perspective on what it means to be a human being.
I'll be the first to admit, this book is a challenge for all my students in one way or another. Some because they are white and live in the northern US. Some because they are male and it's difficult to view life through a woman's eyes. Some because of the adult vocabulary and extensive use of figurative language. Some of these experiences are so remote from their own, while others are very close to home.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written... March 14 2004
By tonisha
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Having never read any of Angelou's previous works before this book I came into reading this book with an open mind. I was happy to find out that she has an absolutely beautiful way of writing. Maya is able to take something so dull and dress it into something heavenly. I truly enjoyed her heartpulling story of facing adversity, broken homes, and not knowing love...which lead her to eventually find herself. Although a pretty good novel...i was dissappointed with the ending. I wish the story would have never ended with its last account in the time of her teenage years...i believe the story should have continued.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A book with no point Oct. 21 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book to me a waste of time. It had no significant ending. Why is having the baby a happy ending to this book. In my point of views it just made her life go downhill. And how is ruuning away to the junkyard a good idea. If I were to do that I would be dead. Maya does a good job writing this book but there is no point. She tries to get acroos themes but it fails. She grew up in tough times with much racism. She only sees whie hating blacks. She fails to see that she has a racist point of view of whites. Some details in the scene from St. Louis did not needed to be added. I don't think this is an appropriate book for kids to be forced to read. Kids can't watch some P.G. 13 movies in school. I consider this writing to be rated P.G. 16. My main problem is the book has no ending or point.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Um...no Jan. 29 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book downsizes life. Ms. Angelou writes well and thought-provokingly, but this book makes hardship and questioning your place in the world seem like experiences specific to African Americans. I agree that this book is slightly racist, though not in the blatant, harsh way that the author seems to have endured. The feelings, thoughts, and questions in the book are NOT specific to a certain race, because nothing that counts for anything is specific to a certain race. If the book is meant to bring together races of people, it fails miserably. This books widens rifts, and in the end, even the reader feels stung.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Trendy nonexistant issues April 12 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Once the trendy women's issues are cleared aside, there is absolutely no literary merit to this book. People just like to look at certain issues and pretend like they are a problem because of the fact that they are not a problem. If there is no problem then no actual work is involved. You can just say that you were a part of something, possibly something great, because 20 years after there actually was a problem you recognized it. Maya Angelou is no different. I feel no sorrow for her. I found this book to be empty and meaningless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A repulsive book! July 28 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Angelou talks about her selfious childhood in this sickening novel. She acts like everything is horrible, but her grandmother owns a successful store that has no trouble with the Great Depression. At the end she acts like everything is all right, but she has a bastard child on her hands; she leaves the reader's spirit feeling crushed. Its success can be attributed to the fact that high schools require students to read this God-foresaken novel. Whatever happened to Plato and Thucydidies? Why does Maya Angelou pass for literature?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I hated this book June 29 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I hate how Maya Angelou thinks she's such a victim and tries to steal everyone's sympathy in a verbose piece of garbage. There are about a million lives right now that are much worse than hers but she acts like she has persevered the most racism and injustice in the world. She puts in about thiry big words for "opression" and "racism" and acts like she has reached sainthood. All this book is, is a self praisal (i forgot how to spell that).
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I would recommend e read anytime over waiting for a book to ...
I would recommend e read anytime over waiting for a book to arrive ... however I do like the tactile touch of a book and pages ... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Sandra
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
One of my first purchases to begin my collection. A classic at a decent price.
Published 12 days ago by Allison Ferguson
5.0 out of 5 stars Angelou Has a message for us all!
A brilliant writer and beautiful woman ... still reading!
Published 19 days ago by Michele Syms
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Enjoyed
Published 1 month ago by Elaine Buchanan
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking stories are told beautifully by incredibly gifted writer
Incredibly personable. Heartbreaking stories are told beautifully by incredibly gifted writer. The deafening honestly poured into Angelou's words as she recounts her childhood is... Read more
Published 1 month ago by T.S.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I COULD HEAR MAYA'S VOICE WHILE READING THIS BOOK...
I WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT HER EXTORDINAY LIFE...
Published 1 month ago by mujeres
4.0 out of 5 stars Never too late
I came to read this book late compared to most readers but found it a genuine re telling of Maya Angelou's early life. It is written in an innocent yet mature way. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mary Sawyer author ;Beyond Me
4.0 out of 5 stars Great and insightful book!
I read this book after discovering the passing of the author, and the praise she had received for her writing, so I decided to see what she had to offer. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jennifer McCombs
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
What can you possibly say about this remarkable woman! Her words are inspirational to so many people.
Published 1 month ago by Jacqueline Miles Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
provocative professional pleasing
Published 1 month ago by Melissa Williams
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