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A Song Flung Up to Heaven (Maya Angelou's Autobiography #6)

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  1,539 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
The culmination of a unique achievement in modern American literature: the six volumes of autobiography that began more than thirty years ago with the appearance of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven opens as Maya Angelou returns from Africa to the United States to work with Malcolm X. But first she has to journey to California to be reunited with he
Paperback, 210 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2002)
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Sep 09, 2014 Eman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A Song Flung Up to Heaven is the last and smallest book in Maya Angelou's autobiography series. Given the time span these books cover, you'll realize that the pure and open obnoxious racism have lasted till very recently and occupied the better part of the 20th century. Slavery in the United States was abolished in 1865 but the aftereffects remained for more than 100 years. The stigma of slavery will always smirch the American history. It's a frustrating sad-but-true fact that makes me ashamed t
Nov 21, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Reading a Maya Angelou autobiography immediately after Richard Dawkins’s Appetite for Wonder is sort of like having a delicious dessert after a mediocre and overpriced meal. Not that Appetite for Wonder was terrible; it just wasn’t good. It was what you fear autobiographies might be: self-indulgent, full of name-dropping, rarely relatable, and boring except to friends. A Song Flung Up to Heaven was refreshing in its beauty and honest painting of real people. Although I suppose it’s a bit unfair ...more
Mary-Ellen Lynn
A Song Flung Up to Heaven is the sixth and final instalment of Maya's six-part autobiography, spanning the years 1964-1968. It is a heart-rending volume. It begins on her return to the US after years in Ghana, where her son has chosen to stay behind. Part of her reason for leaving is to put distance between herself and her husbad; referred to as "the African", he emblematises every mistaken choice of lover a woman could make. She returns to America to join her friend, Malcolm X, in creating an O ...more
Jan 27, 2008 Natalie rated it really liked it
This will be more meaningful and enjoyable for people if they've read all her previous autobiographies in the series. Pretty astounding to know she was about to start doing work for Malcolm X, and then Martin Luther King, Jr. before they both died. I liked that it was a social commentary, being as honest as ever, without leaving the reader totally depressed and hopeless.

I also just had to share this quote (below.) She is describing a black lower-class neighborhood called Watts, near Los Angeles
Jan 11, 2015 Bradley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
As readers I think it's easy to fall into reading only specific genres. As a gay white man I tend to read gay white men fiction. But books are not only for escapism but also for education. So, every February, I attempt to read something about African-American culture. For the past 5 years I have read the autobiographies of Maya Angelou. This February is a little bitter sweet because I've finished her 6th and I know that she's no longer around to entertain and enlighten me through her words.

A Son
Yeah, I've finished Maya Angelou's autobiography series. It's been a fascinating ride. In some ways it feels strange that she decides to end her autobiography with her turning forty - what about the next forty years?! But this book ends with her being asked to write her autobiography, so I suppose it's come full circle in a way. The writing's good, the book is interesting, but I don't think this is the best of her books, and it feels a bit more like a collection of anecdotes and experiences from ...more
Jan 07, 2013 Tanessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recently, I heard Maya Angelou say that easy reading is hard writing. This book was such an easy read. And when I say easy, I mean easy to read for my stay-at-home mom lifestyle. I rarely have a moment to myself, so I am not sure how I finished this book in a matter of sittings. I appreciated the concise but rich and even poetic chapters about Maya's life and affiliations with such figures as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and James "Jimmy" Baldwin. It's adorable to see such a distinguished ...more
50 a year
May 15, 2015 50 a year rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s taken just about a year for me to work my way through Maya Angelou’s epic autobiography (‘epic’ being an overused word that is definitely not an exaggeration in this case). It started with I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and finishes with this instalment, A Song Flung Up To Heaven.

A Song covers the period of her life between 1965 and 1968, when Angelou returned to America after living for several years in Ghana.
Sep 13, 2014 Anne-Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
wonderful and a joy to read
Aug 12, 2016 Chipo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
and so ends the series of Maya Angelou autobiographies :(
Jacqui Williamson
Beautifully written and she writes of historically important moments from the inside. An amazing woman

Be educated by a strong intelligent woman.
She writes in an uplifting way . She has survived many troubles with a very strong spirit which she shares with the reader. Her mother and brother are amazing people too.
Sep 17, 2016 Corinne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The people answered with anything that came to their minds....
- I burned down before I noticed
- I didn't have a job, so I burned down Watts
- I didn't have anything else to do, so I burned a store
The journalists were being treated with the old-as-slavery response: If a white man asks where you're going you tell him where you've been."

"Leaving was harder than I expected. Human beings are like some plants. If we pause a few seconds in our journey, we begin setting down roots, tendrils that enta
Ellyn Oaksmith
Oct 28, 2013 Ellyn Oaksmith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book, the last in her anthology, covers the time period between coming back from Africa and the starting of her book, To Kill a Mockingbird. As a writer, this is a terrible thing to do but I am ranking her books, in preference, in my head, since I re-read them all at once. I suppose the ranking has more to do with what's in my head rather than what is in her life but I found the books that had more success and joy more enjoyable. I suppose this makes me a traditionalist although To Kill a M ...more
Patricia L Graham
Mar 10, 2014 Patricia L Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a snappy autobiographical read across the life and historical events which impacted a country, the world and this gracious author’s life. I would normally stop there, but Maya deserves more from me than this.

Seen through the time capsule eyes of a single mother, estranged from her only child, estranged from love, dancing, singing, drifting from job to job. Maya shares observations and feelings as she trundles on with her seemingly directionless life, yet being in association with so many
Oct 19, 2011 Therese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read 6/2009). This is the final book in her autobiographical series (6 of 6) that begins with "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." This book begins where number five left off: she returns home to the US after living in Africa for several years. A very brief recap that is basically the same as the end of "All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes" begins this work.

A great deal of this book is Maya beset by tragedy and learning from it, something we all do or should do, as these unpleasant events in o
Nina Norstrom
Sep 29, 2015 Nina Norstrom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although Maya was well-known for her many INTERESTING poetic writes, this book is not one of those poetic stories. And perhaps, it wasn’t intended to be (i.e., a poetic tale). I found the book to be . . .
A trail life story of Maya Angelou’s journal . . . as it blazes from Ghana. With her first stop arriving in San Francisco and from there several other places she ventured. Maya brings its reader into the many relationships with family and friends; her heartfelt losses that crippled her emotions
Jul 19, 2012 Winnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Several years ago I read the first 5 parts of Maya Angelou's autobiography and was not aware that there was a sixth. Having recently discovered my mistake I hastily acquired the sixth volume and am thrilled that I did. It is just full of the warmth that is Maya Angelou. For the me the following sums up the book and Maya Angelou.

The following takes place very soon after the shocking news of the death of Martin Luther King jr.

"Jimmy (Baldwin) said "We survived slavery. Think about that. Not becaus
The book starts at the point where Angelou is just now leaving Ghana and on her way back to the States, where she is to help Malcolm X in his campaign. She decides that she wants to go see her mother and brother before taking on the task proper, but by page 26, Malcolm X is shot dead. The book ends with another death, this time the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., just as as she is offered a position to help in his campaign. It is while coming to terms with King’s death that she is give ...more
Jul 26, 2015 Asha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
Haven't read the other five books and in that sense reading the sixth and the last book was like putting the cart before the horse. Nevertheless it was a compelling read. Though the book spans just 4 years (1964 - 1968) that's enough to provide brilliant snapshots at herself - her dilemmas, vulnerabilities and anxieties. The devastating news that awaits her within 48 hours of her arrival in the US, her rise like a phoenix from the ashes of desperation and depression that envelops her, the racial ...more
Kathryn Klose
Jun 13, 2014 Kathryn Klose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Her inspiring journey continues

Dr. Angelou's authentically loving, American voice spoke straight to me first in "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings". I was deeply moved as I watched and listened during President Clinton's inauguration. I absorbed these and then the next four books of her autobiography while living across the Atlantic. She helped to close that geographical and emotional gap at a critical point in my life.

In "A Song Flung Up To Heaven", her journey continues, and my memories of the
This is my first Angelou book/memoir and I'm realizing now, after reading other Goodreads reviews, that I have started at the end. There are five previous memoirs of Angelou's life, starting with I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings. Have placed the other five on my to-read list! This memoir starts when Angelou leaves Ghana and heads home, intending to work with Malcolm X after a brief visit to her mother and beloved brother in San Francisco. I found it incredibly interesting because of the tense and ...more
Feb 22, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobio-bio
I listened to the audio of this as well, and liked Angelou's narration much better. Either I am getting used to her style, or she was much more engaged with this segment of her story.
This part of her autobiography begins with her return to the US from Africa. She has returned to work with Malcolm X. Shortly after she arrives home, he is assassinated. She is devastated, and on top of that, has to find a different way to support herself. Full of entertaining personal stories and absolutely littere
Angelou's writing is by turns poetic and plain here, and it works well. She speaks to tragic events of the mid- to late-1960s, when Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both killed. (She was on board with the latter man's civil rights work.)

A firsthand race-riots account and personal relationships receive her gentle but firm treatment as well. Funny tidbits appear in her telling of working and writing for a theater after singing at a lounge in Hawaii and being upstaged by a bigger-voiced s
Vicky Pinpin-Feinstein
I read this book in a single afternoon because reading it is like have a friend sit beside you on the sofa, telling stories to one another as you are sipping tea and you learned about all those delicious details that friendships are made of. Maya Angelou, who knew many if not all of the Civil Rights leaders, the African American movers and shakers and yet she writes about them like a dear friend, a confidant and in the process, you not only learn what friendships mean to her, to you but also tha ...more
May 02, 2015 Ulriika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I don't know who forced Maya Angelou to write this book, but someone clearly did. There was an air of reluctance all the way through, feeling like a half-hearted effort.

But that's so harsh, you say! Yes, it is. But compared to the passion and love the last five autobiographies were written with, this one just felt like Dr. Angelou couldn't be bothered. She was probably bullied into it by a publishing contract.

And thus, I just read 160 pages of not much of anything, except a few political assassi
Apr 04, 2016 Destiny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first book by Maya Angelou that I can recall. I listened to the audiobook. I didn't realize it was a part of a series. It was ok. 3.5/4 Stars. I can tell she is an awesome story teller by how smooth her words spilled through the speakers in my car. I liked her memory of the deaths of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. My favorite part was the bonding of two females who weren't really supposed to meet or get to know one another. What an interesting woman. Knowing more about her life gi ...more
Nov 10, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I reach for a Maya Angelou book, I do so because her thoughts center me. I think I have heard what she has to say and more of her story is likely more of what I already know. Yet, upon reading, I am always hearing new things from her. And I appreciate that she shares her mother's advice on living.

This book is about the year's after her return from Ghana. The leaving of her African love, her son's rebellious teen years, her involvement in US African-American civil rights, and "where she was"
Jul 02, 2015 Vorbis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yay! I made it through the book! All six books in the anthology, and I only had to renew it twice. Which says a great deal more about me than it does about the writing, which is insightful and fascinating.

This book covers her plans to work with both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr, and their assassinations. It also talks about her tempestuous relationship with an African prince who she was informally married to. Less of a theme to this one, more of a wandering recollection of the time.

Also a
Diane Brown
I enjoyed this installment of Maya's autobiographical account of her life. It is easy reading, and writers would know that creating easy reading is not that easy. "Human beings are like some plants. If we pause a few seconds in our journey, we begin setting down roots, tendrils that entangle other people as we ourselves are entangled"
Grateful that Maya had the conviction to uproot herself many times to live a full life so that we her readers can go along her journeys with her.
I really liked this
Apr 02, 2016 Faith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This final installment in Angelou's autobiographical series is a quick, sketchy read. The book jacket promises that she "watches Watts explode in violence" and helps Dr Martin Luther King, Jr organize the Poor People's March on Washington, but neither account is detailed.

The most interesting thing to me as a white woman was Angelou's time as a market researcher in Watts. She explicitly explains the difference between the script she was handed, designed for white housewives, and how she approache
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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 ...more
More about Maya Angelou...

Other Books in the Series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (7 books)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Gather Together in My Name
  • 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
  • Mom & Me & Mom

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“Believe people when they tell you who they are. They know themselves better than you.” 3 likes
“For years, I had known that there is nothing idle about curiosity, despite the fact that the two words are often used in tandem. Curiosity fidgets, is hard to satisfy, looks for answers even before forming questions.” 1 likes
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