Biographies / Autobiorgaphies

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.


Maya Angelou is a writer and a poet, born in 1928. This book got her critical acclaim and it chronicles her childhood and life up to the birth of her son when she was 16. She deals with issues such as living in a world still dominated by white superiority, growing up with her brother Bailey and the mistreatment she endured under her mother’s boyfriend, Mr Freeman. Coupled with this, we see her going on a journey of understanding that young people endure the world over – learning about the world, driving a car and exploring sexuality.

I was originally encouraged to read this book by my former English teacher. I wanted to get hold of a copy and searched for it indifferently for a few years until I found the book in my local library. I had been looking in the wrong place and the wrong section, and so I began reading it with an avidness unique to bookish people.

It vividly recounts the way of life that Maya and Bailey experienced living with their grandmother and working in The Store, and the atmosphere of 1920s/ 1930s Arkansas as well of personal difficulties that Maya faced. A good book to read if ever studying racial politics, but I don’t think that I would’ve read this book if I hadn’t been told to do so by my English teacher because I wouldn’t actively seek it out. It certainly highlights how the white people who thought themselves superior treated the black people with such disdain.

Apparently there are a series of autobiographies written by Angelou, and I might have a hunt for the others if I am ever at a loose end. I found some sections of the book to be searingly honest, and sometimes her descriptions made me squirm inwardly.




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