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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 (254 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.

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings + Letter to My Daughter + The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou
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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
9 of 9 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing-up to Create Your Own Destiny May 30 2014
By Corinne
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had never heard of the author, until her death. Something made me want to learn about her. Our backgrounds are nothing alike. I was a Saskatchewan farm girl, not rich but not poor either. Yet somehow we have so many things in common. I identify with her. We both lived very much inside our own heads. Neither of us was prepared to accept what was expected and accepted by everyone else, including our own families. I am the second of five girls, but nothing like my sisters in the way I see the world. I love them,but no one in my family (except perhaps my father understands how I think and feel). Like the author, being a good student and making my own opportunities to get an education became my way forward. Despite also becoming a mother at seventeen, I learned that you do get out of life in proportion to what you are prepared to put in. No one can do it for you. Faith, however you define it, also plays an important role. You will never know what you can do until you try. Don't give up on what you want just because no one has ever done it before. Become your own "black conductress".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 9 2014
By eleah
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
came in perfect condition.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars July 5 2014
By Carol
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great lady
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 4 2014
By Colleen
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very good book
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars June 30 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heroine of Mine June 27 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Maya Angelou is a heroine of mine and she tells a good story. I is so interesting to read how the life of a little black girl produced such an amazing poetess.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book by a wonderful woman
A real gem gleaned out of less than ideal surroundings. Courage & understanding it's building blocks.
Wonderful book by a wonderful woman,
Published 13 days ago by Happy Tapper
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not stop reading this
Not only is the quality of writing (turn of phrase and insight into the human soul) top notch, the historical narrative is critical to social intelligence.
Published 1 month ago by Corabee
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The book I order, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, arrived promptly and in excellent condition. Thank you for your service!
Published on Dec 5 2011 by leahj26
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressionable
This is an amazing autobiography. Ms. Angelou is a beautiful story teller. She leads you in with beautiful words, but don't get the impression that it is simply a sweet book... Read more
Published on July 6 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars good
There's really not much to say about it really. It was good and you will like it if you have never read it before. It is written well and has very good descriptions. Read more
Published on June 28 2004 by A .J. Casper
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best reads in a long time
I've read three books recently that I found absolutely fascinating: The Secret Life of Bees, Bark of the Dogwood, and I know why the Caged Bird Sings. Read more
Published on June 7 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Iv read
I really like this book it hooked me till the very end.
Published on June 6 2004
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