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

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  5,283 ratings  ·  186 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 Big Sea by Langston HughesTalking at the Gates by James CampbellI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya AngelouDust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale HurstonI Wonder as I Wander by Langston Hughes
Author Biographies and Memoirs
125th out of 162 books — 39 voters
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Slice of Americana
41st out of 46 books — 26 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ellyn Oaksmith
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
Angi Hurst
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
...more
Shaun
Wow...so 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
...more
Frank
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
Helen
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
...more
Lorraine
This book is well written. Maya is an exceptional writer. As a teen, she was very brave and determined to succeed against all odds.

I like the fact that she wasn't prone to pity parties and grabbed life with both hands.

I love that she was her own greatest supporter.

Most of all, I love that her determination to be great at whatever she was doing was rock solid.

I am definitely reading more of her.
Caterina
“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
...more
Phoenix Lafemme
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
...more
Missy  Beinindy
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!!!!
Christine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roya
I first read Maya Angelou's autobiographies when I was 17 or 18 (it was only a trilogy then - lol) It is now about 36 years later and both she an I have done more living since she finished the trilogy. It's like reading I am reading the books for the first time and from a completely different perspective than the first time around. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" was my favorite when I was 17/18. I had visited the southeast US, and was interested in the culture, life and race relations.

Now, I
...more
Aisha
I am revisiting Angelou's work after years of forced reading in middle school (we all had that one teacher who swears by I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings). She is an icon and legend for so many reasons but her writing is just phenomenal as well. I am not a fan of most poetry (Sorry Whitman) but the way she strings her words flow like water on the page. I actually ended up reading half of this book aloud to myself just because I wanted to hear how the words sounded. It was well written, enticing, ...more
Michelle
This woman lived more lives before she was 21 than many people live in decades. She is unflinching from sharing some of her less than stellar decisions in life and the youthful arrogance which motivated them. She held her head up high then, perhaps as a shield from some of the ugliness in the world. She shows the reader that she can hold her head up high now as one who was not defined or defeated by a difficult time in life. One can't help but root for her to be able to find stability for both h ...more
Lynne
Having read most everything Angelou wrote I randomly decided to re-read this one. The book certainly isn't her best. The story follows a young black woman as she 'struggles' through life's hardships. Most of her hardships being of her own making, so sympathy is hard to dredge up. It seems the author wants us to admire her heroine's impetuosity even though it ends in disaster while nothing is learned. I don't recall exactly what I thought of it 30 years ago, but today I'm less tolerant of absolut ...more
Heather
Within days of me getting this book from the library, (the follow up to her first novel) Maya dies. Just as I was beginning to learn from her amazing life, she passes into another. What a gift she has left us with her wisdom and honesty. This book was much less eloquent than the first, but just as raw with her writing. I don't think I would have faced her adversity with such success. From where she came to where she ended up- as a life time faculty member of a wonderful University. Just an amazi ...more
risha
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
Sheri Borges
One of the most honest autobiographies, that I have ever read. This sequel to "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", continues the story of Maya Angelou in a humorous and heartbreaking manner.

Angelou unmasks the ideals, and reveals the true flaws of man. She shares her struggles, while never skipping a beat in her pride and dignity.

If you have never read this book.....we highly recommend, that you do!

http://prbshoppe.mybooksandmore.com/w...
Maria
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
...more
Miso
Feb 22, 2014 Miso rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Miso by: Naledi Nika
I am a fan of Maya not only because of her beautiful story-telling but everytime I read her books I see myself in her character. Basically Rita has been to hell and back; and she still live life to the fullest. I like the fact that she doesn't give up on love regardless of what has happened to her in the past!! Her son, Guy is her world and she values her family, she received a call that her mom was in hospital, when she arrived it wasn't only her mom but Bailey, her only brother was broken by l ...more
Bob Schmitz
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,
...more
Ape
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Molly
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
...more
Kyronne
This book is so sad, yet so beautiful, really made me and makes me question the world and environment that many women face (that we as men create/support some of us) and how many of those stories are never heard, ignored, pushed aside.
The beauty of it, is the fact that Maya in the end as we know has triumphed out of this adversity.
I feel like this book in a way has opened my eyes and I need to read more books written by women.
Rebecca Dunbar
This is the second instalment of Maya Angelou's six-part autobiography. It was an excellent read, where she recalls transient jobs in San Francisco and Los Angeles to support her young baby. From Creole chef to tap-dancer to prostitute, Maya looks for a stable job that will support her and her son, and is ultimately exploded to the dark underbelly of 1940s American society, plagued with narcotics. Compelling - I hope book 3 is cheerier.
Renée Damstra
Love it.
Love it.
Love it.

Do not understand the motives of the main character very well for making certain (bad) decisions, but well.
I do admire her strength for moving on and finding a new job and place to live again and again. In her place I would feel very lonely and scared I think, you don´t have anything or anyone to hold on to really but yourself. At least I have been in somewhat similar circumstances and found it very hard, but in Angelou´s writing I do not see that reflected so much. She
...more
Alaine
The second book in the series of autobiograpjhies by M.A., this book reads quickly and is sad at times, but also the reader is propelled on by the story and the great writing. Even though M.A. makes some mistakes trusting others, she bounces back and moves along. I like following along and reading about her mom, Bailey, and Momma and all the other chracters in her life. On to book #3.......
Karen
Starts at age 17 where “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” left off on her autobiography detailing her struggles of a young lonely unmarried black with a young child trying to survive. Her power in her faith in herself is clear and her lack of understanding (including her own culture in Arkansas) of how it relates to what ‘white’ society offers her plus her misconceptions about what she can’t do and what she has to due to survive are powerful. The jobs available exotic dancer, a cook (multiple tim ...more
Bob
The canonic understanding of this book is that it is entirely autobiographical, though its picaresque quality and the rapidity with which the narrator, in her late teens, switches milieus could make you think it had been fictionally constructed to neatly illustrate every facet of the tougher side of African-American life just post WWII.

Our 17-year old protagonist goes, in quick succession, from San Francisco short-order soul-food cook, to San Diego madam, to city girl who doesn't realize quite
...more
Rift Vegan
Maya is the most audacious teen, ever. Just crazy, the things she does and gets herself into. I hate that she gets so stupid when she falls in love! But pretty soon, it's on to the next bold adventure. Maya's stories are amazing, and she writes them brilliantly, one right after another.
Lydia Lynes
I so desperately wanted to enjoy this writing. I had heard so much praise for Maya Angelou's works but this one did not live up to my expectations. Yes, the struggles and strives that young Maya goes through are heart wrenching and inspirational, but the scatterbrained presentation of her writing made it difficult for me to finish this book.
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I prefer Maya Angelou's memoirs over her fiction. Am I alone in this? 3 14 Aug 16, 2014 09:36PM  
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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
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings The Heart of a Woman  Letter to My Daughter Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now The Complete Collected Poems

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“The naturally lonely person does not look for comfort in love, but accepts the variables as due course.” 4 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.”
3 likes
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