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Gather Together in My Name

(Maya Angelou's Autobiography #2)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  11,309 ratings  ·  426 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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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  11,309 ratings  ·  426 reviews


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Paul
Dec 31, 2015 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 ...more
Cheri
”For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
--Matthew 18:20

This is a continuation of Maya Angelou’s autobiography, the first volume of which is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I read that last year, and was once again cast under the spell of her writing reading this second volume.

As this begins, it is shortly after the end of WW II, and Maya has her infant son, she is only sixteen years old, and must find a way to create a life for the two of
...more
Ellyn Oaksmith
Oct 22, 2013 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
Eman
Sep 09, 2014 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
...more
Angi Hurst
Jul 30, 2007 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
...more
Monica
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I enjoyed this more than Angelou's first memoir, which won't be a surprise to anyone who knows my tastes, because in this book she's a teenager/young adult while in the first she was a child. Adults make for active protagonists, while children are passive. So I enjoyed the content more and therefore appreciated the writing more. It's a short, quick read and kept me engaged, though, as in the first book, events sometimes seem disconnected from each other, and Angelou's tone can be so wry and ...more
Ellie M
Dec 11, 2015 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
...more
Amber
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Well its no I Know why the caged bird sings, but it is just as brutally honest n lucid. Definitely worth a read!

"It's interesting that they didn't realize in those yearning days past, nor even in the present days of understanding, that if the female had the right to decide, she suffered from her inability to instigate. That is, she could only say yes or no if she was asked."
F.E. Feeley Jr.
Sep 14, 2016 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
...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
As with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I couldn't put this one down once I started reading. This autobiography picks up where I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ends, with with 17-year-old Maya out of work and caring for her son Guy in San Francisco. In the two or three years covered by this book, she moves several times, even once back to Stamps, Alabama, and holds an amazing number and variety of jobs. She also learns some hard lessons about life and about herself. What a lot of courage and ...more
Shaun
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
...more
April Cote
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction, memoir
I absolutely love Maya Angelou. Even when she is talking about all the wrong she has done, she shines brighter in my eyes. Because she pushed through those bad times, she fought to do better, be better, and of course, we all know she achieved the better. Everyone should read Maya Angelou, her poetic words of wisdom know how to pierce into your heart and stay with you forever.
Helen
May 02, 2014 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
...more
Laila (BigReadingLife)
Wow. I've somehow read these Angelou memoirs out of order (I don't think I realized for a long time that she even had more than the first one, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.) I wasn't prepared for how dark this one would be after reading some of the later ones. Angelou lived a hundred different lives, it seems. One would never suspect that the dignified poet who read at Clinton's inauguration had once been a prostitute. This memoir chronicles her late teenage years as she lives in San ...more
Phoenix Robles
Jan 25, 2012 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
...more
Lorraine
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
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.
Ying Ying
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
Maya's life has so many twists and turns that it reads as if it were a piece of fiction. Stories of pimps, whorehouses, and the underworld. While she has lived through all these dangers, we can now have a glimpse of them all within the safety of a book. To have lived through so many life shocks as a young mother undoubtedly demanded incredible courage. Maya is, as Obama said, a truly phenomenal woman.
Huda Mitha
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just love Maya Angelou!!!!! The writing is so easy to follow and it doesn’t even read like a boring autobiography. God bless her soul.
Peter
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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.'

This is the second part of Angelou’s autobiography and covers her life between the ages of seventeen and twenty. It continues on from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings left off with Angelou giving birth of her son and leaving her grandmother in rural Arkansas to live in San Francisco. The reader learns of her attempts to
...more
Cathi
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you haven't read any Maya Angelou, what are you doing with yourself and I feel a little sorry for you. Not a wasted word or moment, and so exquisite I know I will want to revisit to deepen my understanding of the gift that is her writing.

If this sounds too effusive - just read one of her books. Although I read these first three out of order, I look forward to continuing with the next two.

Oprah, why haven't you made Maya's life into a miniseries? I would love to watch it, and would love to
...more
June
This is the second book of a six volume autobiography of Maya Angelou. This picks up the story of a teenage mother who struggles during the post war period to find a job to support her son. Maya is resilient but not street wise. And to be fair, for a black woman at that time, it would be hard to survive. She is a teenager who makes many bad decisions, some are hilarious and others are scary. And I appreciated her vulnerability and courage to tell her tale. Her writing is on par with lyrical ...more
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
...more
Will
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel continues Maya Angelou's autobiography (where I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings left off) from ages 17 through about 19 - in a post WWII world.

There is much I can say to recap but many others have probably covered this ground already.

I will add that while I don't consider myself a prude, I was shocked to learn (possible spoiler ahead...) that Maya worked for a month in a whorehouse as a "lady of the night". O_O

She was trying to get money to help out a man she loved or at least
...more
Amy
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Maya Angelou. Many times, while reading her work, I will stop and reread, to savor her choice of words and her turn of phrase.

"The loss of young first love is so painful that it borders on the ludicrous."

"I had written a juicy melodrama in which I was to be the star. Pathetic, poignant, isolated. I planned to drift out of the wings, a little girl martyr. It just so happened that life took my script away and upstaged me."

"There was nothing about me to bind anyone to me in sympathy. No
...more
Kate
Jan 05, 2017 added it
Shelves: memoir
After re-reading "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," I felt compelled to read her other memoirs. This one is wild..what a crazy life she lived! And this book ends when she is only about 20 years old. Once again, her amazing voice and insights make for rich reading.

I just discovered that all of her autobiographies are in one collected book. So I am going to get that and read the other straight through. A friend who is leaving the country for the holiday will buy it for me and bring it back to
...more
Loretta
Some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read, used in an unflinching autobiography. As opposed to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, when Angelou was a child and therefore not really in control of her own life, in this volume we see her take her first steps into adulthood and make some very unwise decisions. She can be naive, vindictive, flighty and neglectful towards her son, but she's still always intelligent, strong-willed and fascinating. Truly a masterpiece.

5 stars.
Kyronne
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Monika
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second volume of Angelou's autobiography is as resourceful and remarkable as Angelou herself. She almost joined the army. She ran a brothel, she worked in a brothel. She cooked (to earn). She took up learning to dance professionally. She almost lost her child. At certain points, I thought she was going to run away and make amends for all that I thought was not worthy enough to hold on to, but, by Jove, what was I thinking? Her unflinching directness subdued everything.
Carmen
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
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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

Other books in the series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (7 books)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #1)
  • 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
  • Mom & Me & Mom
“Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.” 61 likes
“The naturally lonely person does not look for comfort in love, but accepts the variables as due course.” 9 likes
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