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Gather Together in My Name (Maya Angelou's Autobiography #2)

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  7,204 Ratings  ·  258 Reviews
This is a continuation of Maya Angelou's personal story, begun so unforgettably in her bestselling I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It is full of memorable people and charged with a life-giving quality that marks Maya Angelou's writing.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 12th 1997 by Bantam (first published 1974)
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The Color Purple by Alice WalkerTheir Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale HurstonThe Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm XBeloved by Toni MorrisonInvisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Best African American Books
223rd out of 625 books — 805 voters
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya AngelouBird of Paradise by Raquel CepedaAlmost a Woman by Esmeralda SantiagoWhen I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda SantiagoHalf-Breed by Maria Campbell
Non Fiction/Memoirs by Women of Color
24th out of 58 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Angi Hurst
Jul 30, 2007 Angi Hurst rated it it was amazing
A sequel to Maya Angelou's autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," this book begins when Marguerite is in her late teens. Her beautifully-written prose describes the heartwrenching mistakes that she makes in her life decisions, as a result of her risk-taking and daring personality.

My scale (since the speed of my reading is directly proportional to how well I like the book):

1 - couldn't get through it
2 - actually got through it but it took months
3 - read it fairly consistently on the tra
Phoenix Lafemme
Jan 25, 2012 Phoenix Lafemme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being that Dr. Angelou is my favorite writer/poet/inspirational speaker since the age of 10, and the fact that I have had the pleasure of personally meeting and being uplifted by her words, I tend to be biased in my opinion compared to others when it comes to her work. I absolutely adored and appreciate the fact that she yet again chose to share such a raw and vivid story of struggle, bad choices, and circumstance with her readers.
Yes it started off slow in the beginning, but yet again she held
Bob Schmitz
May 21, 2012 Bob Schmitz rated it it was amazing
Reading Maya Angelou is like listening to a song or a poem. She is such a beautiful writer. I enjoyed reading it just for the sentences.

I picked this book up in a used book store as I had enjoyed her earlier autobiography,I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This pick up the story. What an interesting story of her life and the times and a glimpse into the black post-WWII world. Maya describes taking dance lessons, reading Dostoevsky, working as a waitress and bar girl, an evening with two lesbians,
Jan 17, 2013 Molly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the voice, though that doesn't always translate to loving the persona.

But when her attitude misfires, she has the dignity to admit it and soldier on. She's a tough woman, that Angelou, at least as she describes herself in her memoir, and I admire that.

I loved Angelou's conversational tone, where she'd write things like, "By 1943, when I first saw him, his good looks were as delicate as an old man's memory, and disappointment rode his face bareback" (9). I loved that bareback image and w
Sep 27, 2013 Shaun rated it really liked it I guess fiction really can't touch real life.

Picking up where I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings left off, this heart-wrenching memoir chronicles Maya Angelou's late teen years as an unwed mother, pimp, and prostitute desperately searching for love.

Her poetic yet blunt retelling of the events created a slight disconnect for me between the writer and the young girl she writes about. I sometimes had a hard time picturing this sophisticated/assured and generous woman as the selfish and feckl
Ellyn Oaksmith
Oct 22, 2013 Ellyn Oaksmith rated it really liked it
This is the darkest in Maya Angelou's anthology and one I hadn't read before so I was shocked when she came to the brink of prostitution and actually jumped. So many times in the book, particularly when she's nearly enlisted in the Army, I thought "I didn't know she was a soldier," and then found out what happened. So when it came to her sleazy older boyfriend, saying he needed some "help" crawling out of a financial mess, I thought she would somehow wake up from the nightmare. Even when she was ...more
May 12, 2014 Helen rated it really liked it
A humbling, horrifying, addictive, beautifully written second part to her autobiography. What an amazing life, what an amazing woman: in part about every woman and our shared struggles through early adulthood and yet utterly personal and unique.

This volume charts Maya's life as a mother in her late teens, brutal in its honesty and miraculous in its lack of vitriolic self-judgement. Instead of self-flagellation, Maya Angelou's writing is redemptive and pitiless. Maya takes us on the next stage o
Sep 03, 2014 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The second book of Maya Angelou's autobiography is just as beautiful and gripping as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This book begins where its predecessor ends. We travel with Maya over about a 2-year period (up until she is 19) as she struggles with growing up and not succumbing to the temptations and darkness present in the world.

There is so much that I didn't know about her. While she made bad decisions (she was a young woman, we all make bad choices in our life), it made her even more insp
Jun 22, 2014 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this second volume of her autobiography, Maya Angelou narrates the early years of her adulthood. An unwed mother, at the age of seventeen she strikes out on her own: "I would quit the house, take a job and show the whole world that I was equal to my pride and greater than my pretensions." She cooks and waits tables, gets rich running a whorehouse staffed by two lesbians, nearly joins the Army, becomes a professional dancer, falls in love with a married gambler, briefly becomes a prostitute, r ...more
Missy  Beinindy
Jun 26, 2014 Missy Beinindy rated it it was amazing
The book is a gem!!It presents a descriptive picture of the texture of the lives and times of many black people in the late forties before the dawn of the civil rights!!Its so insightful and funny sad you catch your self rembering your own your adulthood!!!!
Jan 03, 2016 Eman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

My goodness, I adore this phenomenal woman! These autobiographies by Maya Angelou are the best definition of a page-turner in my book. Gather Together in My Name is volume no. 2 of the series and I enjoyed every bit of it. Maya Angelou's prose game is ah-mazing and I believe it's the poet in her that forces such a beautiful choice of words. Aside from the beautiful language, she has this easy charming approach which keeps you hooked and hungry for more. This attractive formula always works for m
Nov 12, 2014 Christine rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 02, 2015 Caterina rated it really liked it
“During this time when my life hinged melodramatically on intrigue and deceit, I discovered the Russian writers. One title caught my eye. Not because I felt guilty raking in money from the doings of prostitutes, but because of the title’s perfect balance. Life, so far as I had deduced it, was a series of opposites … and no mitigating areas in between. It followed: Crime/Punishment. I walked the sunny California streets shrouded in Russian mists.”

Until I stumbled across The Collected Autobiograp
Dec 23, 2014 risha rated it really liked it
I've talked a little bit about the erasure of Dr. Angelou's past and how Gather Together In My Name is- in her own words, and in her inimitable voice- an unashamed, incisive, interrogative look at her own past. It's a quick read and definitely the most struggle-heavy of all her autobiographies. The struggle is palpable in this book- I don't know if it's because the parallels to today's contexts and black realities are even more clear; or if it's because the loss of Dr. Angelou is still quit raw. ...more
Jun 07, 2015 Vorbis rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this book after I first heard it mentioned during Maya Angelou's obituaries that certain sources were quoting her poem Still I Rise and deleting the stanza

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

And that stanza certainly came as a surprise to me, because when I think of Maya Angelou it's as poet laureate, talking at the President's inauguration. There is an interview about why she wrote this book you sh
Christine Strawberry-girl
Feb 19, 2015 Christine Strawberry-girl rated it it was amazing
This dark but powerful memoir details Maya Angelou's young adult life. Filled with difficult topics from drug addiction to prostitution to racism, it is incredibly honest and harsh and heartbreaking yet at times also funny and uplifting. This is a story of survival. She neither dilutes nor apologizes for her past, including work as a line cook, a Madame, and dancer. She very nearly joins the army but gets disqualified for supposedly being a communist. At one point she is tricked into prostitutio ...more
Angelou [1920-2014] writes well, it is easy to read her book -- harder to let the reality of it sink in. Because my goodness, what a life she had, from being a 17-year-old mother to short-order cook to running [from a distance] a small whorehouse to being enticed [briefly] into prostitution by a pimp who had her completely fooled [what 19 or 20 year old can see through such deception?]

She had the character to stay on her feet through it all, amazingly. It probably helped that she had a mother in
Angela Boland
I had heard that the first of Maya Angelou's biographies is the best. I still intend to read them all. But this one certainly was not as good for me as the last.

What I loved best about I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (and also what broke my heart) was that every story was told through the eyes of a child. But in this book, Maya has grown up. I felt that difference very keenly. Not only does she start to see the world with adult eyes, she also is having adult experiences.

VERY adult experiences.
Ellie M
Jan 04, 2016 Ellie M rated it really liked it
I read I know why the caged bird sings a long while ago, and Maya Angelou told her remarkable life story. This follows on and it's equally well written.

In this book she's a teen mum living initially in SFO. She finds work as a cook, falls in love and it doesn't work out, and heads for LA before a diversion to San Diego and Oklahoma. She takes short term jobs cooking and waitressing to help her raise her son. Somewhere in this story she, at 18, runs a brothel.

The blurb tells you she dabbles in d
Monica (The World thru my Eyes BLOG)
I love this woman with all my heart. Her writing style, her way of crafting a story, her life..
This volume was a bit sadder than the previous ones, but what a great read.
Jan 10, 2016 Paul rated it it was amazing
This is the second volume of Maya Angelou’s autobiography and covers four years from 1944 to 1948, ending when Angelou was 21. It covers a period pre civil rights and just after the war. Angelou was remarkably resourceful in relation to the things she turned her hand to and did well. She cooked and waitressed in a number of establishments, managed a restaurant, sold clothes, learned to dance to become a professional dancer, ran a brothel, worked in a brothel ( her “pimp” or “daddy” was an Episco ...more
Jan 27, 2016 Sally rated it liked it
"Gather Together In My Name" is Angelou's follow-up memoir to "I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings".

This second installment, which is out of seven memoirs Angelou published during her lifetime, follows her as young Marguerite (or Rita) at age 17-19 trying to figure out her life as a single mother and as a young, Black woman. She finds herself bouncing from state to state, city to city, odd job to odd job, man to man, with family and without family, with strangers and simply strange situations. She b
Alex Roma
Jun 12, 2016 Alex Roma rated it really liked it
My mom passed down tons of Maya Angelou books to me when I moved to Louisville, but I actually didn't know that she had a series of memoirs (following I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings) and that I already own most of them. I just assumed that most of what I owned were poetry and essay books. So when I went out to start All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, I realized that it was one of the latter books in the series and I still needed to read Gather Together In My Name.

I think this book came i
Feb 10, 2016 Nitya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maya Angelou was blunt and turned an unflinching gaze on her actions and her lives as mother, daughter, sister, girlfriend, cook, dancer, pimp, restaurant manager, almost-soldier, whatnot in Gather Together in My Name, the second volume of her autobiography. But only sometimes on her motivations.

I guess I wanted more of how an intelligent woman could be fooled by a sleazy older boyfriend into prostitution. I understand that growing up in her milieu, she was tuned to believing that only a man co
Tunde Oyebode
Jul 21, 2016 Tunde Oyebode rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A black American woman's take on a drug filled sordid story. It's amazing that she lived this and survived it. It's not surprising that she's such a great writer and poet. This kind of stuff: suffering and hustling, will make a great poet out of anyone. I admire it really, and also I am grateful that I never had to experience this or anything close to it at my late teens.

What surprised me the most is her constant mention of how intelligent she was compared to all the other people in the story,
Sep 12, 2016 Corinne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"My name" - here I drew myself up through the unrevenged slavery - "is Miss Johnson. If you have occasion to use my name, which I seriously doubt, I advise you to address me as Mess Johnson. For if I need to allude to your pitiful selves, I shall call you Miss Idiot, Miss Stupid, Miss Fool or whatever name a luckless fate has dumped upon you." ...Momma stood on the porch facing the road Her arms hung at her sides and she made no motions with her head. Yet something was wrong...."You think 'cause ...more
Oct 08, 2016 Wanderer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what do you say after such a book. Simply beautiful. The book is blunt... unapologetically so and this makes her story much more meaningful. She made mistakes, life dealt her a cruel hand at such a tender age but the book ends on a promising note. No matter your race, ethnicity, age or circumstances... this book speaks to the endurance and perserverance of the human spirit. My heart mourned for Troub, such people are rarer in this world of ours.
F.E.  Feeley Jr.
Sep 15, 2016 F.E. Feeley Jr. rated it it was amazing
Dr. Angelou has a way of beating you up that makes you thankful for getting that ass whupped.

Gather together in my name - the religious overtones guide the reader into a false sense of security before the late, great Dr. Angelou drops an anvil on your head. This brief little glimpse into the life of a very young woman between the ages of seventeen and twenty - this twinkle of an eye- to keep up with the religious tone - is hell on earth for this young woman.

A cook, a chef, a pimp, and a prosti
Sep 16, 2016 Sophia rated it really liked it
I would definitely recommend this book to an older audience. Gather together in my name has so much truth and honesty, and its nice to read about her life. I thought this book was going to be boring but its the exact opposite. This book will make you love autobiographies. I hope a lot of people read it because it was really amazing.
Michael McClain
Oct 08, 2016 Michael McClain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 2nd chapter in Maya Angelou's autobiography series spans her life through age 19-21. With a son in tow and still uncertain about her path through life, Maya goes from job to job and man to man to discover where she fits and what career might suit her best. She shares her adventures from a perspective of knowledge and hindsight. Angelou chocks all the reckless and dangerous decisions up to experience and her reflections about her youth are inspiring to read. It's amazing to see that, as accom ...more
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I prefer Maya Angelou's memoirs over her fiction. Am I alone in this? 4 19 Feb 01, 2015 04:44AM  
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Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Ann Johnson April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, was an American poet, memoirist, actress and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. In 2001 she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies Home Journal. Maya Angelou is known for her series of six autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, (1969 which was n ...more
More about Maya Angelou...

Other Books in the Series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (6 books)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #3)
  • The Heart of a Woman
  • All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes
  • A Song Flung Up To Heaven

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“The naturally lonely person does not look for comfort in love, but accepts the variables as due course.” 6 likes
“Be the best of anything you get into. If you want to be a whore, it's your life. Be a damn good one. Don't chippy at anything. Anything worth having is worth working for.'
It was her version of Polonius' speech to Laertes. With that wisdom in my pouch, I was to go out and buy my future.”
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