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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings | [Maya Angelou]

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age - and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. But years later, she learns about love for herself and the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors.
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Publisher's Summary

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash”. At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age - and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime.

Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns about love for herself and the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a modern American classic that will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read - or listen.

©1969 Maya Angelou (P)2010 Random House

What the Critics Say

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.” (James Baldwin)

“A beautiful book - an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.... Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Simultaneously touching and comic.” (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (808 )
5 star
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Story
4.5 (701 )
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3 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Brian 02-21-14
    Brian 02-21-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    3
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    "Just like listening to Grandma tell you stories"
    If you could sum up I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in three words, what would they be?

    Real
    Horrific
    Delightful


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved the glimpses allowed into the mind of Maya, the way she thought, the way she saw the world.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    "Preach it!"


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Several moments in this book were life-changing for Maya, but hearing her tell them was life-changing for me.


    Any additional comments?

    It's difficult to hear of the hardships and struggles of a young girl, but it is also good to see the strength and resilience of the human spirit.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer PARIS, TX, United States 10-20-14
    Amazon Customer PARIS, TX, United States 10-20-14 Member Since 2008

    Lawyer, reader, writer, performer. Just love listening to books and talking about it!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    272
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    "Go for Mom and Me and Mom"

    Ok, I know, this is the pivotal Maya Angelou, but I honestly love Mom and Me and Mom so much more.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa 09-29-14
    Lisa 09-29-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Couldn't have loved it more!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to be better than the print version?

    I have only heard the audio edition, but I can't imagine reading it myself. It was so great to hear Maya Angelou read it in her own words, it was like being there with her again.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Everything. The candor about her youth and the struggles of her family. I learned so much about that point in history that is never talked about, it was so enlightening. There was so much to this book, every emotion is experienced.


    What about Maya Angelou’s performance did you like?

    Everything.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    All of it.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish all of her books were on audio.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KG 07-28-14
    KG 07-28-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So good."
    If you could sum up I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in three words, what would they be?

    Raw honest writing.


    What does Maya Angelou bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Just hearing the voice of the person who had the experiences in the book adds so much.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Fayetteville, GA, United States 07-21-14
    Amazon Customer Fayetteville, GA, United States 07-21-14 Member Since 2012

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    "Inspirational!"
    What made the experience of listening to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings the most enjoyable?

    Definitely having the author narrate the book.


    What other book might you compare I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to and why?

    The Color Purple


    Have you listened to any of Maya Angelou’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have listened to her poetry. Never an entire book. It was great! She became every character.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I understood it better with the author reading it. Through her voice I was more aware of how she experienced various situations.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary MELBOURNE, FL, United States 07-06-14
    Mary MELBOURNE, FL, United States 07-06-14 Member Since 2013

    Tell us about yourself! Love Audible! Listening to a good story on my long commute to work makes the drive awesome.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Narrator's voice was flat at times."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes - insiders view of growing up black in a society governed by hateful whites.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Personal views of author


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    made parts seem boring


    Was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings worth the listening time?

    questionable - the jury is still out


    Any additional comments?

    Just when I thought I couldn't listen anymore something intriguing happened and I continued

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Irene Keller, TX, United States 06-29-14
    Irene Keller, TX, United States 06-29-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
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    "Lovely Maya"
    What did you love best about I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?

    The voice of Ms. Angelou.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?

    Of course, the most memorable moment has to be her being molested. It is the moment that the book builds up to and that everything falls down from.


    Which character – as performed by Maya Angelou – was your favorite?

    Ritee had such a wonderful relationship with her brother. He was her only real "connective tissue," so to speak. He was the one thing that was always there, whether she was going to live with her grandmother with a note attached to her as a very small girl or being sent back and forth between her parents and grandmother as a growing child, he was the one thing she could always count on. I think he was my favorite because he was a constant.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I re-read this book, this time right after Ms. Angelou died. I think my reaction this time was much less extreme as it was when I read it when I was much younger. I was remembering the times - her childhood and how she was such a strong person, living through so much, and how she got to be that way. This time reading the book, didn't make me laugh as much as smile when she did the things she did. Her determination, for instance, at becoming a money taker on the trolley cars.


    Any additional comments?

    I will miss Maya Angelou's voice so much. She had such a great talent and this book was one I turned to when she died to say goodbye.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth K. Keating 06-17-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Why Audible is Valuable"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Maya Angelou narrates her own classic and brings the story fully to life. This audiobook helps one understand the value of an oral tradition.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph YORK, PA, United States 07-24-14
    Joseph YORK, PA, United States 07-24-14 Member Since 2013

    Commuting 2 hours a day to and from work allows me the pleasure of listening to many books where I would otherwise not have time to read

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Blahh"

    That's it, no more audio books narrated by the author. I know that we speak her name, and may she rest in peace, but in my opinion, Maya Angelou's reading of her own work was horrible. It was as if she forgot her reading glasses and was struggling to read the words. I found it very annoying.
    I did not enjoy this book.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CDR Eric Wallischeck 07-04-15 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    2
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    "A classic"

    A wonderful story by an American icon. Well presented and recited. Highly recommended for all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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