Book Review- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Title- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Author- Maya Angelou
Published-  1969
Genre- Biography
Length- 317 pages
Rating- 4/5
Synopsis (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.

Review- This is one of seven books that make up Maya Angelou’s biography, but it is not a typical biography. If you weren’t told that it was a biography you could believe that it was a work of fiction given the writing style. This is a much loved book and I see why, however I don’t feel as strongly about it as most people seem to.

Much of this is beautiful, well written, and interesting. I enjoyed reading the actual “story”, but the religious discussions were less interesting to me. It’s just personal preference, I’m sure lots of others enjoy that aspect of the book also.

Racism is a major topic in this book, which given the time in history is to be expected. I always struggle to understand racism, I just have no idea why anyone would be racist, it’s like hating someone for having a different shoe size to you. I just don’t get it. Although I have read books featuring racism before those tended to focus on big incidents, in this book the focus was more on how it featured in every day life which although sad, was interesting and eye opening.

Despite not gushing over this book the way a lot of people seem to, I was disappointed when it ended, I wanted to know more about what happened with the final “event”.

I find it odd reviewing any kind of biography. When reviewing fiction you are judging the author’s imagination and writing, but with a biography you are judging their life and them as a person, which if you have never met them isn’t really fair.

Overall I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it, and not just to those that enjoy non-fiction. Given the writing style if you enjoy contemporary or literary fiction you would likely enjoy this.


5 thoughts on “Book Review- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

    • From what I can figure out yes. Unfortunately on things like Amazon it gives you the publication date of a particular edition so it can be hard to find the original date but this was the earliest one I could see. It would make sense considering when it is set and her age at the time.

      Liked by 1 person

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