Jami's Reviews > I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
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May 29, 2014

really liked it

In her nonfiction autobiography, Maya Angelou describes her life from her young girl life up to the birth of her first child at age 16. The book drew me in at the very beginning because of the talent Angelou has with language, scenery, and loading the moment with emotion. Another intense draw for me was the fact that it is a nonfiction book. I was constantly thinking I can’t believe she had these experiences.

(SPOILER ALERT)When Maya turned three, she and her brother, Bailey, went to live with her grandmother in Arkansas because of her mother’s divorce. They worked doing strenuous, everyday chores and the grandmother, referred to by the children as “Momma”, instilled in them religion and values. When Maya was eight and Bailey nine, they went to live with their mother in California. They loved knowing who their mother was finally—a beautiful, successful, hardworking woman. Soon, however, Maya was raped by her mother’s live in boyfriend. After being on the witness stand in court, Maya was terrified what would happen to her brother because of the threats that he mentioned about killing Bailey if she spoke to anyone about what happened. Maya didn’t have to worry about this for long, however, because the perpetrator was killed a few nights later. The children were placed in a ping-pong game of having to move to different places and learn to adjust throughout their difficult circumstances. The ping-pong game was relevant to more than moving; their emotions and identities seemed to follow the same pattern.

I loved this book although it has been censored and banned from schools and classrooms quite often. Because of the issues illustrated in the book, I think that this book would be most effective for students who are juniors or seniors in high school or older. Angelou had a difficult life with challenges beyond what I can wrap my mind around, and her blunt honesty tells it how it was. This fact was both hard and captivating. The book should be read by parents before handed down to teens, but if discussed properly, it has the potential for many teaching and learning opportunities. The book discusses graphic and disturbing conflicts in the book including (but not limited to) the following: racial prejudice and violence, sexual abuse, violence, language, prostitution, and an unwanted pregnancy. If discussed properly, the book would provide a great learning experience for both student and teacher as discovery occurs.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Amy (new)

Amy believe it


Carrie Just a minor correction to your review, they went to live with their mom in St. Louis. Their dad lived in California. Liked your review though.


message 3: by Catherine (new)

Catherine This review should come with a SPOILER ALERT WARNING! As a person who just purchased a set of 6 of her books I wanted to simply know if I am making the right purchase. I did not need to read a summary. If you just left out the middle this would have been a good review.


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