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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings [Kindle Edition]

Maya Angelou
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,951 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $6.99
Kindle Price: $3.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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 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.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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."

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.

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
220 of 231 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I agree this book is amazing. March 26, 2004
Format:Hardcover
In a poetic, yet detatched way, Maya Angelou captures the heart of her struggles growing up female and Black during the Depression. Her style and description draw in the reader and keep her spellbound even during the most painful scenes. You feel deeply for the author and her little brother as they drift through their lives living for a bit of affection. Neglected by their divorced parents, Maya and her brother get sent to Arkansas at ages 4 and 5 to live with their grandma and handicapped uncle. Although life is hard and love not demonstrated, Maya learns much from her grandma and uncle.
The theme of this book is the quest for the child to be loved by the adult. Maya feels inferior. She feels ugly and compares herself to her magical brother Bailey. Both children are starved for true affection and daydream a white movie actress on the screen is their long lost mother.
Maya and her brother are eventually united with "Mother Dear" in St.Louis when she is eight. Unfortunately Mother's boyfriend begins to abuse Maya(...). This is graphically portrayed in the book. Maya's feelings of not belonging and not being truly loved are compounded after the abuse.
I admire all the autobiographical books by Ms.Angelou. She has achieved a lot in her life for a person who started out in such a sad situation.
This book should be read and re-read.
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225 of 244 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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143 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Misleading Warnings January 10, 2005
By Elyse
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Going into my freshman year of high school and my first honors english class I was told by my church to beware of the evil book they would force me to read-- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

It was protested because of the vivid picture painted of her sexual abuse.

After reading it I can only shake my head at the people who warned me of this book. By refusing to read it because of something horrible happening to someone you fail to really realise that things of that nature happen.

Reading this book was an eyeopener to me-- to understand just where people like Maya come from. I was riveted throughout this book. Easily it is one of the better books I've read.
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132 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The early years of Maya Angelou March 30, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," by Maya Angelou, is the first volume in this author's extraordinary series of autobiographical narratives. "I Know..." begins with her childhood and takes us into her young womanhood. This book has, since its publication, become a beloved contemporary classic of African-American literature.
After their parents' separation, young Marguerite (her given name) and her brother, Bailey, are sent to live with their strong-willed grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, deep in the segregated South. Angelou also describes her time spent with her other grandmother in St. Louis, as well as her young adulthood in San Francisco. The overall time period of the book overlaps that of World War II.
"I Know..." offers important insights into the world of racial segregation, and painfully records the toll taken by racism in its various forms. Also powerful and important is Angelou's recollection of surviving a brutal sexual assault when she was a child. Angelou recalls vividly the authors who made an impact on her during her childhood and young adulthood: James Weldon Johnson, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, and others. The book concludes with her sexual awakening as a young woman.
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is an American classic which has lost none of its power in the 30 years since it first appeared. Angelou's prose is direct and personal, and marked with passages of wit and beauty. For scholars of African-American literature, women's studies, or literary autobiography, this is an essential volume.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular!
It doesn't get any better than Maya Angelou telling her life stories.
Published 13 hours ago by Denise Mohr
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book on the Black experience in the US.
I enjoyed this book because it shows how Maya Angelou evolved to be the person she was. She also writes about the life of Black people at that time in US history and expresses some... Read more
Published 23 hours ago by Pennbar
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
Brilliant style of writing. Thoroughly enjoyable and perceptive.
Published 1 day ago by Winthrop
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Terrible ending
Published 1 day ago by maureen drogus
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 1 day ago by mamaj2many
5.0 out of 5 stars Maya Angelou is a painter with words. Her descriptions ...
Maya Angelou is a painter with words. Her descriptions make me see and feel everything. Now I'm hooked and can't stop reading her work!
Published 2 days ago by Librarina
4.0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed by the ending
Very well written and interesting to see the leisurely development of characters. I was disappointed by the ending.
Published 2 days ago by Norman F
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Striking. Powerful. Potent. Revealing. Healing. What can be said about Maya Angelou that has not already been said?
Published 3 days ago by felicia
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Recommend getting this.....great book
Published 3 days ago by Kojo
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Didn't finish. Not for me.
Published 3 days ago by jkt
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