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Maya Angelou's Autobiography #2

Gather Together in My Name

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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.

Maya Angelou's volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration.

221 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1974

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Dr Maya Angelou

7 books2 followers

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5 stars
7,858 (48%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 755 reviews
Profile Image for Paul.
1,219 reviews1,961 followers
January 10, 2016
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 Episcopalian preacher!) and almost joined the army. All this whilst being a single mother. Angelou is remarkably open and honest; clear about her mistakes, as she said herself:

“I wrote about my experiences because I thought too many people tell young folks, “I never did anything wrong. Who, Moi? – never I. I have no skeletons in my closet. In fact, I have no closet.” They lie like that and then young people find themselves in situations and they think, “Damn I must be a pretty bad guy. My mom or dad never did anything wrong.” They can’t forgive themselves and go on with their lives. So I wrote the book Gather Together in My Name”

What is obvious throughout is Angelou’s strength of character and resilience and it is written with great clarity and passion. The importance of family is central, as in the first volume and we see vignettes of Angelou’s mother, brother and grandmother and what bound them together was stronger than what tried to pull them apart.
At the end of the volume is a brief look at the world of drug addiction and the degradation and horror of it made a deep impression on Angelou. A man she was working with at the time had given her a glimpse of the world he inhabited:

“The life of the underworld was truly a rat race, and most of its inhabitants scurried like rodents in the sewers and gutters of the world. I had walked the precipice and seen it all, and at the critical moment one man's generosity pushed me safely away from the edge.”

Angelou said that writing this book was very difficult and painful; it is more fragmentary than I Know why the Caged Bird Sings. Race and racism is still very much there as part of daily life and the book is very much about what it is to be a black woman in the 1940s. There is a note of hope at the end;
“I had no idea what I was going to make of my life, but I had given a promise and found my innocence. I swore I'd never lose it again.”
I know many readers and critics don’t rate this as highly as I Know why the Caged Bird Sings, but I do because of Angelou’s honesty and passion.

Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,862 reviews146 followers
December 17, 2020

This was an absolutely wonderful book. Maya Angelou is on my Top Three author list (and climbing). I met Maya's work on New Years Eve of 1978. My wife had to work (a nursing thing). I was being crabby and a dear friend gave me a copy of "A Caged Bird.." and I was up all night.

It is breathtaking how she shares from the depths of her being. This book shares so much pain that I see her as a brave as any author. There's a thesaurus full of descriptios and feelings. (Don't tell the tough guys but she made me cry).

Please drop what you are doing and read her work. I love her like she is a friend--i never met her though. Give her to yourself for Christmas or whatever Holiday you celebrate.

I highly recommend.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,800 reviews2,392 followers
November 26, 2019
”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 them. At that point in time, illegitimacy would have been a difficult thing for the majority of people to accept, especially in “polite society.”

The atmosphere in the country had changed drastically when the men went off to war, but changed even more when the men came home.

”Black men from the South who had held no tools more complicated than plows had learned to use lathes and borers and welding guns, and had brought in their quotas of war-making machines. Women who had only known maid’s uniforms and mammy-made dresses donned the awkward men’s pants and steel helmets, and made the ship-fitting sheds hum some buddy. Even the children had collected paper, and at the advice of elders who remembered World War I, balled the tin foil from cigarettes and chewing gum into balls as big as your head. Oh, it was a time.”

The mood everywhere seemed to take a positive swing, and they all waited for the good times they expected to follow. Celebrations, parades, and music reflected the celebratory atmosphere, at least for a while.

”Their expanded understanding could never again be accordioned into these narrow confines. They were free or at least nearer to freedom than ever before and they would not go back.”

There’s so much territory that is covered here that it’s hard to believe that this only covers about three years of her life, but it’s an important three years, if not always pretty. It doesn’t have to be, because in reading this you are even more aware of how she, herself, was filled with beauty.
Profile Image for Ellyn Oaksmith.
Author 15 books68 followers
October 22, 2013
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 naked and facing her first customer, I waited for that moment when she'd run downstairs and outside.

She did not.

She describes both running a "whorehouse" and working as a "whore" with unflinching directness. Although when you think of the Maya Angelou we all know now, it's hard to picture her being duped by the sleazeball characters, it only makes me admire what this woman has built of her life. She is so incredibly independent that each of her adventures reads like a racy novel. Her life is melodrama. Luckily for us she doesn't write it that way.

This is the school of hard knocks and Ms. Angelou describes it all. Her meandering through jobs and men is sometimes so painful that I had to think, "She's Maya Angelou. She's going to be okay." There are passages that leave you thinking, "Our poet laureate went through this? And wrote about it?" Her life and writing is a bravura performance. I can't think of anyone else in her category.

I only gave this one less star because to me, this book felt like part of the greater work that perhaps needed a book in front or behind to make it feel like a complete work. Take that with a grain of salt. I know all her work and could refer back and forth so perhaps it just felt that way to me because I have the whole picture. Like everything she writes, this book is not just a great piece of literature and a wonderful read, it's part of American history that you shouldn't miss, rough patches and all.

As usual, through her ups and downs, she is one class act.
Profile Image for Tomasz.
451 reviews836 followers
December 11, 2022
Znacznie bardziej osobista niż „Wiem, dlaczego w klatce śpiewa ptak”, choć równie pięknie napisane. Maya Angelou pisze o swoich doświadczeniach życia jako czarna kobieta, nastoletnia matka, osoba poszukująca swojej drogi w Stanach Zjednoczonych po zakończeniu drugiej wojny światowej- i robi to doskonale. Brawa również za wspaniałe tłumaczenie!
Profile Image for Dagio_maya .
933 reviews281 followers
June 3, 2020
Cadere e rialzarsi.

Secondo (e ultimo pubblicato in Italia!) dei sette libri autobiografici scritti da Maya Angelou.
Pubblicato nel 1974, "Gather Together in My Name", prosegue il racconto inziato in "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" ("Io so perchè canta l'uccello in gabbia").

Siamo nel secondo dopoguerra.
Dopo un momento di generale euforia per la recente vittoria si fa palese la realtà:

"... si iniziarono a vedere gli eroi di guerra (...) ciondolare agli angoli del ghetto simili a panni dimenticati sullo steccato di un cortile. (...) Eravamo sopravvissuti ad una grande guerra. La domanda nei ghetti era: riusciremo a cavarcela durante una piccola pace?".

Anche per Maya sono cambiate molte cose ed è il momento di prendere delle decisioni:

"Avevo diciassette anni. Ero vecchissima e insieme tanto giovane da sentirmi imbarazzata, avevo un figlio di due mesi e vivevo ancora con mia madre e il mio patrigno."

Sopravvivere con dignità è un arduo compito soprattutto in quella condizione di doppio svantaggio dell'essere donna e nera alla fine degli anni '40.
Lavori sbagliati, uomini sbagliati tra San Francisco, Los Angeles e le cittadine di provincia.
Luoghi dove ogni volta si tenta di ricominciare.

Un ritorno a Stamps (Arkansas), il luogo dell'infanzia, segnerà il momento dell'odio:

"Il paese era diviso a metà dai binari del treno, dalle rapide acque del Red River e dai pregiudizi razziali(...) e soprattutto l'atmosfera era gravata dall'odore di antiche paure, dall'odore degli odi e della colpa".

Maya commetterà lo sbaglio di sentirsi protetta dall'accento del nord e dagli abiti alla moda ma una parola sbagliata che esce dalla bocca di un nero, in quel sud dove il tempo si è fermato, equivale ad una condanna a morte.
Momma- la nonna materna- la metterà di corsa sull'autobus per salvarle la vita e Maya porterà come souvenir un profondo odio ogni qualvolta incrocerà uno sguardo bianco.

Questo e tanto altro nel racconto di Maya Angelou.
Una storia fatta di cadute, scelte sbagliate, ferite e la perdita di fiducia in se stessa.
Una storia che ci insegna che c'è sempre un'altra possibilità:
quella di rialzarsi e continuare a resistere...

"la vita nei bassifondi era davvero una gara all'ultimo sangue e quasi tutti loro abitanti non facevano che correre come topi nelle fogne e nei canali di scolo del mondo. Io ero arrivata fin sull'orlo del precipizio e avevo visto tutto; la momento critico la generosità di un uomo mi aveva spinto al sicuro lontano dal ciglio."
Profile Image for Eman.
204 reviews58 followers
August 21, 2017

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 me and guarantees my love for a book.

The story of her life? Never a dull moment! It's a roller coaster with all the melodrama she's been through in such a little age. It goes on and gets darker. Rita (that's short for Marguerite) is now 17 years old with her baby boy post WWII. I'll admit that her history with prostitution shocked me. She puts herself out there naked sans sugarcoating to the public eye without being afraid of judgment and without losing her hilarious touch, but that's her style; extremely truthful with a pinch of humor. She's real, blunt, unapologetic, and that's why I adore her.


Maya Angelou's Autobiographies:
1) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
2) Gather Together in My Name.
3) Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas.
4) The Heart of a Woman.
5) All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes.
6) A Song Flung Up to Heaven.
Profile Image for Jeść treść.
244 reviews583 followers
December 31, 2022
Moja ostatnia książka wspaniałego i czytelniczo niebywale udanego 2022 roku – Zgromadźcie się w imię moje” Mayi Angelou.

To moje pierwsze literackie spotkanie z Angelou. Nie doczytałam, nie poszperałam, po prostu złapałam tę książkę przed wyjściem na pociąg, a w pociągu przepadłam. Angelou wciągnęła mnie po uszy, a ja nie zdążyłam się dowiedzieć, że „Zgromadźcie się…” to w istocie drugi tom biograficznej serii, którą otwiera „Wiem, dlaczego w klatce śpiewa ptak” (którą zresztą mam na półce, ale to inna historia). Ta informacja trochę mnie zmartwiła (bo mam jakiś trudny do obłaskawienia pociąg do ordnungu), a trochę ucieszyła, bo szalenie mocno chcę dowiedzieć się o Angelou więcej, a najlepiej wszystko.

Maya Angelou składa na ręce czytelników wyjątkowo szczerą kronikę życia w Stanach Zjednoczonych po II wojnie światowej, która pozornie zrównała wszystkich i usunęła podziały rasowe, a w praktyce tylko czasowo je uśpiła, dając fałszywą nadzieję na wolność i równość społeczną. W tych okolicznościach Maya, siedemnastoletnia i z maleńkim synem na rękach, stara się zdobyć samodzielność i zapewnić sobie i dziecku lepsze, dostatnie życie. Nie brakuje jej odwagi, ale brak doświadczenia i desperacja pchają ją w mroczne zaułki San Francisco, gdzie łatwo stracić niewinność.

Dwie kwestie, które kompletnie i niepodważalnie podbiły moje serce, czyniąc mnie wielką fanką i zapaloną czytelniczką prozy Angelou: absolutna i bezkompromisowa szczerość jej opowieści oraz bogata, wręcz barokowa fraza, która mimo swojej gęstości i zdobności nie wpada w kicz ani pretensjonalność. Angelou pisze naprawdę diabelnie oryginalnie i trudno mi znaleźć innego autora czy autorkę władających podobnym stylem.
Profile Image for Angi Hurst.
19 reviews
July 30, 2007
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 train (took a couple of months)
4 - felt compelled to read it while on vacation (and/or took about a month)
5 - read it before bed every night (two weeks or less)

Profile Image for Monica .
266 reviews51 followers
January 3, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship.
1,162 reviews1,262 followers
December 29, 2016
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 detached that it's hard to tell how the events of her life affected her; when she does write about her feelings, there's often a sense of amusement behind it. I wanted a little more, especially since some of the events are so outlandish they're hard to believe (a naive teenager stumbles into opening a brothel and pressuring a couple of part-time hookers into staffing it? Whaaaaat?). Clearly creative license is being taken - hence all that dialogue that moves the story along so quickly - and I wonder just how much. But regardless, this is an enjoyable book with a strong voice and a fresh perspective.
Profile Image for Claudia .
108 reviews528 followers
August 23, 2020
Wow. I usually struggle with memoirs but this was a read that will stick around in my head for a long time.
Profile Image for Amber.
240 reviews38 followers
November 12, 2019
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."
Profile Image for Peter.
616 reviews85 followers
August 1, 2018
“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 establish an independent life for herself and her son, taking a variety of low skill jobs including cook, waitress and perhaps most surprisingly of all as a brothel madam, her early love affairs including her ill-fated relationship with a married man. She is a precocious teenager who believes is tough enough to stand on her own two feet and she does often manage to get what she wants, at least in the short term, but it never lasts.

The title refers to all the mistakes that Angelou made in this period of her life and she certainly made some. As a single mother she had little option from working long, anti-social hours often leaving her son to be brought up by others and it is not until he goes missing does she acknowledge that she is little more than a child herself. She is naive and wants to believe in the best of others but this trust and desire to please often leads her down some very dark alleys, yet she never shies away from admitting to her mistakes.

Angelou’s life is undoubtedly extraordinary but never fantastical. She, like everyone else, learns that decisions made by ourselves and other people as well as forces outside of our control when we are young often affects our later life choices. The career paths that we set ourselves as teenagers can be deflected by unforeseen events meaning that the life that we actually live is often very different from the one we envisaged. This book is a fine example of that fact and also proves that sexual grooming is not a new phenomenon.
Profile Image for F.E. Feeley Jr. .
Author 20 books251 followers
September 15, 2016
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 prostitute. She came close to serving her country but the country was too stupidly fearful of an idea to allow her in. She was armed solely with her intelligence. And she'd put up with just about anything, till someone regarded her as a dummy.

Then a young Dr. Angelou, Mother Angelou, the conscience of America - hemmed the fools up.

Hot tempered, sharp as a needle, charming, and a victim of a world that simply wasn't ready for her - she persevered and sought what we all do. Love.

Like her others, Gather is an incredible book. One that regards her own past not with bitterness, but with grace. Dignity. Poise. And the wherewithal to tell the truth in the midst of it all. 3 years of this young woman's life. Absolutely incredible.
Profile Image for Krista the Krazy Kataloguer.
3,873 reviews268 followers
September 13, 2017
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 determination she had! And I admire her deep loyalty to her family, for whom she was willing to drop everything and help no matter what her circumstances.

I learned a lot about post-World War II race relations. I can see now how the fact that black people gained a measure of equality in the workforce during the war only to be sent back to pre-war working conditions after the war ended led to the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s.

I must continue this journey and read her third autobiography. I'm very curious to know how she ended up becoming a writer and poet. In fact, at times her prose in this book read like poetry. Looking forward to the next one, and highly recommending this one.
Profile Image for Shaun.
Author 4 books178 followers
September 27, 2013
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 feckless girl who struggled with making good choices when put in these seedy and precarious situations...but maybe that's the point.

Still it's good and I enjoyed it, and I can see why people are so pleased that she's finally getting recognized for her literary contributions.

Would recommend to those who enjoy a good memoir and elegant writing, and can stomach the raunchy realities of her young life. Probably best when read in order and in combination with her other memoirs.
Profile Image for Ellie M.
262 reviews59 followers
January 5, 2016
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 drugs and in Oakland she dabbled in prostitution before her brother brings her to her senses. She also falls in love left, right, and centre but all are bad news.

The story is again remarkable and very well written. If anything shocked me it was her leaving her son with virtual strangers for long periods of time whilst she worked. I guess times and communities have changed, at least they have in my experience, and now we don't have "mamas" who take in people's kids and virtually raise them, with the mother visiting on her day off. I liked seeing this reflection back to the past.
Profile Image for April Cote.
262 reviews64 followers
August 2, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Moira Macfarlane.
628 reviews68 followers
September 1, 2021
Vallen en opstaan, vallen en opstaan. Dapper tegen de stroom in deze vrouw!
“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.”
66 reviews2 followers
May 12, 2014
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 of her journey with her ongoing attempts (in vain) to find a dignified job worthy of her intelligence and unusual education, the shared, desperate fight to make ends meet, putting one foot in front of the other while seeking a sense of self, learning how to value herself and spot those that pretend to respect but only use. And above all the profoundly sad and resonant search for someone to love, a partner to take care, to nurture and value her. The magical weaving of her narrative blooms in the reader's mind with no less of the force and extraordinary poetry of 'I know why the caged bird sings' but gone is the enchanted innocence of early childhood. What remains untouched is her brutal honesty. It makes for grim reading but is all the more uplifting and incredible knowing who she became and how she triumphed against such adversity. And amid the grim, hard, depressing horror of her life is her awe and joyful wonder at the beauty, purity and perfection of her son.

This is a story for all women. A journey where we find something of ourselves in each turn of the page. It is a joy to walk in the cooling shade of this mighty, beautiful, lyrical poet. I cannot wait for the third book.
Profile Image for Lucie.
615 reviews231 followers
April 2, 2020
Her life was WILD. Her writing was still beautiful. I didn't love it as much as the first one, something about it just didn't hit me as hard, but I still very much enjoyed it.
Profile Image for DziwakLiteracki.
285 reviews59 followers
December 29, 2022
Proza Mayi Angelou to strumień samoświadomości; samoświadomości, która zadziwia swą błyskotliwością, niejednoznacznością, ale i ogromną dojrzałością. Trudno bowiem traktować opowieść Angelou inaczej. Jej historia – w pełni prawdziwa, żywa, poruszająca – zawiera w sobie coś wielkiego; coś ponad wyświechtane frazesy, coś ponad ulepki pseudo mądrości, coś znacznie bardziej istotnego, niż puste sentencje wplecione w okrąglutkie zdania; coś więcej niż twór produkowany taśmowo, na potrzeby własnej próżności, złożony w chwale samemu sobie - pięknie opakowany, z dumą prezentujący się na księgarskim regale…

Autobiografia czarnoskórej kobiety postawionej w kontrze wobec świata hołdującego podziały, jest w istocie żywym świadectwem zmagania się z owym; próbą zrozumienia, przystosowania się, wywalczania; drogą prowadzącą przez wyboiste koleiny, wcale nie oczywistą i nie ukierunkowaną w stronę porażki, lub - zaskakującego sukcesu. Wręcz przeciwnie. Maya Angelou unika ocierania się o patos, gloryfikowania własnych czynów, usprawiedliwiania wyborów z zasady budzących kontrowersje; tutaj nie ma miejsca na nic podobnego. Jest za to przestrzeń dla wyrażania siebie, dla opowieści złożonej z mozaiki słodko – gorzkich wspomnień oraz doświadczeń.

Bogactwo myśli płynące z tych niepozornych akapitów ma wielką moc. I to taką, która porwie, oczaruje, pozostanie na dłużej
Profile Image for Suus.
108 reviews1 follower
November 15, 2020
It was good, though I enjoyed the latter part a little less. How can she be so smart and world wise on the one hand and so naive and dumb at the same time. I wanted to shake her. I found it a bit frustrating at times.
Profile Image for Juliana Abaúnza.
Author 2 books231 followers
September 26, 2020
Esta es la segunda de las siete autobiografías de Maya Angelou. Hace cuatro años leí la primera, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, y fue hermosa, triste y muchas veces increíble. No sé por qué me tomó tanto tiempo leer la segunda, pero bueno, fue una muy buena idea (aunque la primera me gustó más). Esta empieza justo cuando se acaba la primera, desde que Maya tiene 17 y acaba cuando tiene 19.

Era la época de la posguerra y pre-derechos civiles. Así como en el primer libro, Maya describe de una forma poética cómo las relaciones de raza, clase y género en EEUU marcaron su vida. Y qué vida. A veces parece ficción. Maya fue cocinera, mesera, vendedora de ropa, bailarina de tap, proxeneta, prostituta y casi se une al ejército. Ah, y madre soltera.

Me gustó mucho de este libro lo honesta y directa que es. La inocencia y tragedia de su infancia ahora son reemplazadas por ingenio y arrogancia. En algún lado leí que alguna vez ella dijo que escribió este libro para que personas jóvenes entiendan que todos, hasta las adultas más galardonadas y sabias, la han cagado. Y creo que eso es lo que me parece más interesante, que hay muy poca autocompasión y Maya no trata de disfrazar lo prepotente que era a veces y lo convencida que estaba de que se las sabía todas, solo para que una y otra vez la hicieran caer en cuenta de que, aunque la vida le repartió una mano muy difícil y a las malas tuvo que madurar, ella seguía siendo una peladita ingenua, especialmente en el amor.

Me quedaré por un buen rato con la última frase en la cabeza (spoiler alert): “I had no idea what I was going to make of my life, but I had given a promise and found my innocence. I swore I'd never lose it again.”
Profile Image for Laila.
1,315 reviews47 followers
June 4, 2018
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 Francisco with her mother and tries to fashion a life for herself and her son. She desperately hungers for the affection of a man to "save" her and true to the norms of the time (1950's) enable her to become a housewife. In doing so she gets into some crazy situations and ends up endangering (and almost losing) her son. This was a quick read, fascinating, sometimes sad, but I'm glad I read it.

(Classics Club list, 3rd book)
Profile Image for NamLitFollows.
973 reviews13 followers
March 7, 2023
A warm and engaging continuation of Maya Angelou's memoirs, most notably her masterpiece "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". This is an entertaining, and heartfelt account of Angelou's experimentation into different and diverse professions: sex work, waitressing, dancing, performing; caring for her son Guy Bailey Johnson; exploring her relationships with her mother Vivian Baxter, her beloved brother Bailey, a humorous attempt at joining the US Army, and looking for love in all the wrong places. But written with her trademark wit and aphorisms about life, "love is blind and hides a multitude of faults" (Angelou 135), it is vintage Maya Angelou reminiscing about a life that had been filled with adventure, lots of ups and downs and perseverance.
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