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A Song Flung Up to Heaven Hardcover – April 2, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (April 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375507477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375507472
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Maya Angelou has been waitress, singer, actress, dancer, activist, filmmaker, writer and mother. As well as her autobiography she has written several volumes of poetry, including 'On the Pulse of the Morning' for the inauguration of President Clinton. She now has a life-time appointment as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Customer Reviews

And wish you continuous LOVE, PEACE and HAPPINESS.
Curtis J. Morrow
"A Song Flung to Heaven" and her other memoirs tell the story of an inspiring and courageous woman!
Niki Collins-queen, Author
There is very little in this writing that she hasn't said in previous accounts.
Maurice Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on June 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
We began following the life of Maya Angelou through her first biography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Now many years and several installments later we conclude with her latest work "A Song Flung Up to Heaven." Although, Angelou focuses primarily on a short span of her life in this book, she reflects over her entire life and at the end of the book the reader will surely feel as if she has come full circle.
Angelou's path to success was a rocky one. As a child she was the victim of abuse and her young adult life was far from easy. She shares her experiences with candor and grace, I never felt as if she was telling the glamorized version of her experiences. She shared both her triumphs and her regrets, her successes and her failures. Her writing was conversational, and as I read through this book I felt at times as if we were sitting and chatting. Maya's relationships with such figures as Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and Martin Luther King Jr., were discussed at length in this novel and several other famous figures were featured with less detail. I appreciated that she didn't "dish dirt" about these people, instead she portrayed the people behind the work for which they were famous.
This book continued the journey of Angelou's often difficult life, but I felt like I was left hanging. I respect her decision not to write about writing, but after reading about so many of the difficulties she had to overcome in her life I wanted to hear about her ultimate success as a writer. Still, I appreciated her openness and willingness to share her life's arduous journey with readers. I truly believe that her life symbolizes strength of character and perseverance in a manner that should serve as an inspiration to all, and particularly to women. As such, I highly recommend Maya Angelou's final chapter of her collection of memoirs.--Reviewed by Stacey Seay
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "kcwhitefeather" on May 21, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
In book six of her autobiography series, "A Song Flung Up to Heaven",Maya Angelou vividly recounts the many memorable occurrences taking place between the years of 1964 through 1968. Angelou's first hand experience of the riot in Watts invokes images of the burning frustrations of the people of that area and time. The opportunities of working alongside historic figures such as Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were short lived and a sour subject of intense pain for her.
Maya tells of her trip from Africa to Los Angeles and then to
New York. During this time she experiences the absence of her son, who stayed in Africa to continue his education, and the lost love of her African spouse. With the help of family and friends Maya gains the strength to rise again. The story ends at the beginning of her first book in this bio series.
In this reader's opinion, a song flung up to heaven is a silent prayer for the strength to go on in this life, and the prayer always returns with the needed relief through the thoughtfulness of those around us. The joy of this book was listening to the author read it in her own voice through recorded books.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Fafa Demasio on April 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A Song Flung Up To Heaven is a continuation of the experiences of Maya Angelou. If you've read any of her previous memoirs, you will know that Dr. Angelou has lead and continues to led a rich and full life - something that cannot be covered in one or two books.
This sixth memoir starts with Dr. Angelou's return to the U.S. from Ghana, West Africa. It ends with the time she was about to write her first memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. In between, the book is filled with her encounters with various people and her experience during some disturbing times in American history - the murder of Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the Watts riots in California.
I most enjoyed reading about my favorite personalities from Dr. Angelou's past memoirs - Vus Make, her handsome, intelligent, charismatic African husband; Bailey Johnson, her older, caring big brother; Guy Johnson, her intelligent, independent son and Vivian Baxter, her smart mother.
Reading Dr. Angelou's continued memoir is like sitting with an old, trusted and respected friend; there's a treasured feeling as you listen to her stories as they come one after the other.
Fafa Demasio
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tom Hernandez on September 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Boy I feel terrible even writing this. I love Maya Angelou's writing so much that if she were to walk into my office right now, I'd kiss the ground that her poetic feet had touched. But this book is so thin -- both in terms of number of pages and detail -- that it screams "contractual obligation" to me. There is very little of the poetry, wisdom, description of the human condition or even the wit that usually makes her writing so fulfilling and telling. Basically, she was going to work for Malcolm X, but then he was killed, and it bummed her out. She was in L.A. during the riots, and it bummed her out. She was going to work for Dr. King, and he was killed, and it bummed her out. James Baldwin told her to get hold of herself, and she stumbled into writing her first book, the now-classic "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."
Obviously she must have had some kind of personal or professional relationship with both Malcolm X and Dr. King for them to have invited her to work for them. But we get absolutely no description of their relationship, the characters of either man, or what drew her to two figures of such power and -- importantly -- such opposing political and social outlooks.
I will continue to wait for the next great book from Dr. Angelou. Sadly for me and, I suspect, many of her readers and fans, this is not it.
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