I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Hannah Haney

Maya Angelou was an author that I always knew I should read. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings exceeded every expectation I brought to it. Angelou’s words enveloped me and transported me. I read the book in three days, unable to put it down for too long.

I-know-why-the-caged-bird-sings-book-cover.jpgI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is Angelou’s memoir of her early years—from four to sixteen. She explores issues of race, poverty, segregation, rape, and coming-of-age in the midst of everything. She doesn’t shy away from painful or traumatic experiences, but lifts the veil on things hidden. One of the best lines is at the very beginning: “If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.” Angelou shows us the rust on the razor and lets us feel its edge.

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  1. One of my absolute favorites!

  2. I didn’t read it until a few years back myself. So glad I did. What a force for good and healing Ms. Angelou was, first in her own life and then in countless others.

    1. That’s what I love about memoirs–a good one, it will encourage, embolden and empower others!

  3. So Lynette, here’s my confusion. Is Caged Bird a memoir or autobio?

    1. So glad you asked this question. It’s actually a memoir but when it was first published, it was called an autobiography because back then, they didn’t make a distinction between autobiographies and memoirs. An autobiography encompasses an individual’s entire life while a memoir focuses on a portion of their life. Angelou’s memoir is a coming-of-age memoir that focuses on her life from around four years old until she became an adult.

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