It's been a long time coming, but A Song Flung Up to Heaven
triumphantly completes the six volumes of autobiography that began nearly 30 years ago with Maya Angelou's astonishingly successful I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
, a work that changed readers' perceptions of what autobiographical writing could achieve. The impact of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
(which evoked the author's adolescence and sexual abuse in Arkansas) was unprecedented. It combined frankness and emotional force with a nuanced, poetic style--a style that Angelou has perhaps found more elusive recently. But it's here again, as affecting as ever. The book deals with the years 1964-68, a turbulent period in which Angelou came back to America after her African sojourn. This, of course, was the time of the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King; Angelou was on the point of working with the latter in the civil rights movement. Her voice is fresh and exhilarating as she deals with the tragedies and triumphs of a packed life, and there are some set-piece moments, such as her account of the misguided revenge she took on an ex-lover.
Many women have become celebrated as writers and poets, but Angelou has also enjoyed a distinguished career as a civil rights activist, producer, performer, actress, and filmmaker. With all of this under her belt, she can be forgiven for the note of self-congratulation that creeps in at times. But for those who've followed her unique writing, this is a journey into a fascinating life and a riveting picture of a divided America, always informed with that clear-sighted vision Angelou is famous for. --Barry Forshaw, Amazon.co.uk
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Far from a textbook account, this final volume in the writer's series of six memoirs takes readers into the heart of the civil rights movement. Angelou begins in 1964. When she replanted her feet in America to help Malcolm X, she admittedly left a piece of her heart in Ghana with her son. She was also developing artistically during this time, and finding the means by which to express herself to her country and in her community. Any YA who has aimed to accomplish something meaningful and met with personal loss or the disappointment of bad timing, will identify with her. Before she was able to help Malcolm X form the Organization of African-American Unity, he was assassinated. Her mother and protective brother buttressed her spirits, and encouraged her to move forward. From San Francisco to Hawaii and back to California she takes readers into an economically depressed area in Los Angeles before, during, and after it burned. Her next giant step will be appreciated by YAs with an artistic side. She describes performing and writing plays for an African-American theater. Later, after she moved to New York, her pal James Baldwin and others instrumental in changing the view of America in the 1960s are featured prominently. History was in the making and Angelou was in the midst of it as this worthwhile autobiography attests.Karen Sokol, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
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