I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Review

Title: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 
Author: Maya Angelou
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Classics, Memoir, Non-Fiction

Blurb: (from goodreads) 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 that love for herself, 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 will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.

Me: One of the most artistic, honest books I have ever read.

I think that this book, and Maya Angelou, for that matter, is so monumental for many, many reasons. To address something that I haven't discussed very much on other blogs, I have not read that many books written by African American authors, not on purpose, but perhaps because of lack of availability and education. It's great to see a breakthrough of black authors nowadays, but at the time this book was published (1969) it was a risky, new, brave accomplishment. 
It was an accomplishment in the historical sense, but it really is an incredible work of art. The vividness with which Angelou depicts her memories, and her painfully honest take on her youth is amazing. She address topics such as rape, the separation of whites and blacks in society, the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans, prostitution, alcoholism, and everything in between exactly as she sees it. 
There is not a blind side towards anything and I think that that is the true beauty of this classic. It gave such a new perspective to me on life as black female in the 40s-50s and even now. I felt such a deep connection to all the characters and individuals, even if they were not the best people. Following who seemed to be an ordinary girl grow into an intelligent, fierce woman was beautiful. 

This is truly a side of a story not many people will get to know or even hear about unless the read this book. And it's worth it. 

(Extra plus: English teachers LOOVEE this book, so you might want to get on their good side) 

Rating: Beat My Scale! 


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book! I've heard of this since I was in the 5th grade, and I'm really interested to read this because Maya Angelou is a great writer, and honestly (like you) I've never read a book written by an African American -- since they are barely available for me to read! I'd love to read this soon. Thanks for giving me an insight on how this book would be. :D

    1. I hope you like it when you do! Sometimes it's great to read a book that has been acknowledged for decades as a classic, because you know it will be good. Thanks for stopping by!