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

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  4,501 ratings  ·  158 reviews
In this sequel to 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings', Maya Angelou describes her life as an unemployed young mother in California, turning to prostitution and the world of narcotics.
Paperback, 219 pages
Published 2010 by Virago (first published 1974)
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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 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
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
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
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.
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!!!!
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
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
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
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!
Feb 22, 2014 Miso rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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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
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.
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
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.......
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
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
Jennifer Lauren Collins
While this installment doesn't hold the same humor as Angelou's first autobiography, it presents just as much entertainment and poetic movement. Covering her late teen years, Angelou's movement from childhood into the unsteady footfalls of a young woman is fascinating and full of heart just so much as the heartbreak you'd expect from those years. It also moves just so quickly as a novel, illustrating a talent for narrative pacing that has only grown since her first part, I Know Why the Caged Bir...more
The more I read about Maya Angelou, the more I think that she was born an artist even though she didn't find her voice as a writer until she was close to 40. She overcame such overwhelming circumstances, like having an eccentric but distant mother, being a single mother, and growing up in the 1930s south. In Gather Together in My Name she talks about going from job to job and home to home (from CA to AR and back again), and tries to make a living as she raises her young son. She makes mistakes,...more
This was quite blah at the beginning & middle; and towards the end it elicited a very severe, visceral disgust with the author's choices at that particular stage of her life. I had to force myself to finish this which was disappointing considering the success of the 1st book.

I might pick up the 3rd installment because i realize that every person's life is a journey & just because I couldn't stomach her choices from 16-19 and her outlook on life, doesn't mean there isn't something worth r...more
I didn't read the first book, but wasn't at all lost by this story having not been introduced first to Marguerite. This is an excellent book and while astonishing and raunchy at times, overall I felt a connection with young Rita and her need for love, her dream of being taken care of and her resilient spirit. Highly recommended.
Karen O'shaughnessy
The second book picks up where the first one ended. I loved that book & didn't realize there were more autobiographies. Maya is so very honest about her life, her feelings, and her family. I also enjoyed the glimpse into San Francisco's past.
A great second book in Maya's series of autobiographies. This one is not quite as well-written as the first. There was a certain melody to the prose in "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" which was missing here.

This book covers very dark territory in Maya's life. I am looking forward to the next book to see which turns are coming next.
..."You're full-grown. Let them catch it like they find it. If you haven't been trained at home to their liking tell them to get to stepping. Stepping. But not on you."
I enjoyed this, but not so much as I liked the first volume of Angelou's autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This volume covers Angelou's life from the ages of sixteen to nineteen, the period when as a single, black mother she faced incredible social and economic difficulties. Some of the individual incidents Angelou describes are compelling, and her prose has the same clear, ringing quality, but this installment just doesn't work as well as the first. The fragmentation of Angelou's...more
(Read 5/2009). The second book in her autobiographical series (2 of 6). This book is set in her teen years after she had her son (at age 16). It was a bit of a shocker to discover via reading this book that she was at some point in her life the madame of a brothel, a prostitute in a brothel, and moved around more times in 3 years than I have probably in my entire life, and I have lived in 3 different states. It is the most off-putting in the series; but, if you hang on for number three you will...more
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I prefer Maya Angelou's memoirs over her fiction. Am I alone in this? 1 10 May 11, 2012 11:31AM  
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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...
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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“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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