Book Reviews

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Virago Modern Classics) by Dr Maya Angelou

No ImageBuy Now

List Price: £8.99


Paperback: 320 Pages.

Published: 26 January 1984 by Virago

Edition: New Ed

ISBN: 9780860685111

EAN: 9780860685111

Maya Angelou's seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother's lover.

'I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it's like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again' Maya Angelou


5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars  by Anne

Emotional but in the end uplifting

This is the first book of this author's autobiographical series and it is deservedly a classic. It is written with real emotion and conveys a life that is distinct from mine in a way that helps me understand what it must have been like and how the author experienced her life. The prose is elegant and the words obviously carefully chosen to convey much but it is easy to read. Parts of this book are harrowing and all of it will make you think.

Maya Angelou grew up with her brother, cared for by her grandmother, in rural America in the 1930s. This was a time of segregation, racism, sexism and occasional lynchings. Black people lived in poverty and in fear of their white neighbour and with good reason. Much of the book shows the accommodations and compromises that the family had to make to survive in a hostile environment - much will make you cringe and some will make you cry. Maya and her brother have been left by their parents but they reappear throughout the story and invariably make life worse for them. In the end it is her mother's boyfriend who commits the greatest violation but it is her close family which have paved the way for this to happen.

This is the story of one woman's experience growing up and it is full of detail which made me identify and sympathise with her but curiously, despite the content, this is a story which leaves you feeling uplifted. Maya is a strong woman and you realise that despite everything (and everything is a lot for anyone to cope with) she will survive and thrive. Beautifully written, this book cuts to the heart.

<< previous | next >>