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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 (264 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 I hated it, but perhaps it's just me. Nov. 6 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Now, before you accuse me of being some idiot teenager who hates English, let me assure you that it is not true. I love to read, my favorite writer is Charles Dickens (I like the Victorian English writers). I usually like books that I'm made to read, but not this one. Maya Angelou is an excellent writer of prose, and I'd like to read some of her poetry. But I agree with what one of the reviewers said below me. This book is pointless. It's just a mishmash of experiences from her life which have no meaning and ignited no feelings of comedy, tragedy, or anything for me. Perhaps others liked it because they felt that they could relate to Maya's experiences, but I felt I couldn't. I think it's because I'm a white, Northern, Jew and she's a black, Southern, Christian. I don't really know. I felt this book was pointless, and I don't feel that her life really had anything that worth shouting about. Well, some things she did, but, for the most part, no.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hypocrasy Dec 25 1999
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I would like to say that this book is the worst that I have ever had the misfortune of reading. This book was required reading for my advanced 10 grade English class, so I was forced to read it. Let me say this, Maya Angelou is a racist. Throughout the book she criticizes whites of racism and she goes as far as to say that she "can't wait to see all of the whites burn in hell for their pride while all the humble blacks go to heaven". This book for me can be summarized in one word... HYPOCRACY. She complains about being oppressed but then she turns around and calls all whites oppressive, hell bound, hate filled people. Don't be blindly lead to believe that this book is a literary masterpiece read it for yourself and see the hypocrasy in the book. ( I'm not saying that blacks weren't oppressed, they were, and I'm sorry, but it is no excuse for this tripe! )
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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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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Enjoyed
Published 5 days 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 12 days 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 16 days 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 21 days 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 22 days 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 22 days ago by Jacqueline Miles Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
provocative professional pleasing
Published 27 days ago by Melissa Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I enjoyed this read.
Published 1 month ago by Jacquie Banasch
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I really enjoyed reading about her early years.
Published 1 month ago by Kathy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A great read so far.......still reading it......what a wonderful woman she was......
Published 1 month ago by Robert Bertrand
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