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Maya Angelou, Caged Bird Sings

Updated on August 13, 2015
PAINTDRIPS profile image

As a Baby-Boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

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Maya Angelou, a national treasure.

When I woke up this morning and heard that Maya Angelou passed away, I was so saddened. She was an incredible woman, author, activist, poet, and actress. I remember seeing her on the Cosby Show, and Touched by An Angel, among other guest appearances. Sadly I must admit, I didn't read anything by her until just a couple months ago. After I got my Kindle I decided lots of books that I had always wanted to read were now affordable and storable. Since we moved to this little apartment, I have been downsizing all books, but the Kindle has made owning books reasonable again. That's why I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was on my list of books I always wanted to read but never got around to.


A little girl in the South

The story follows a little girl through discovery of her world, her own body, her ethnicity, her desire for love, and the horrors and childhood trauma of pedophilia and rape. I knew there were some strong issues in the book before I bought it, but the way she wrote about it and handled it brought you into the mind of the child traumatized by an event that would break most people. And she was made to handle it without the kind of therapy that is available today. I was deeply moved by her resolve, her strength of character, and her ability to put the pieces of her life back together again. She had literature and her writings to help her. She had her loving grandmother and her brother to stand by her. But she faced the continued prejudice and race hatred of that deep south mentality.


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Words are Things

Raising a granddaughter

In the story, she is living with her grandmother because her parents are divorced. She lives for a short time with her mother, where the rape occurs, and spends some time with her father, which wasn't ideal either. I must admit, I am a sheltered white woman, who can only imagine the hardships and injustices that black people had to and have to endure in the south. When her grandmother was forced to take her up the stairs to back entrance of a dentist's office to beg for help with her granddaughter's tooth pain, by heart broke. She humbled her self in front of that arrogant white b*****d for the sake of her granddaughter. I'm sure I would have done the same. Wouldn't any parent? But when he turned her away even after all the things she said she had done for him, like her, I was mad. And when the grandmother went back up the stairs and marched into the place without even knocking to tell that man off, I was so with her. What I can never comprehend is that by doing that, she was literally putting herself and her family at risk of retaliation from the white folks who run things. Gratefully, retaliation didn't come because the grandmother held such a reputation in the town. But I wanted that dentist to get some of his own. Those poor dears were made to endure an hour long bus ride into another town where there was a "colored dentist" that could see the girl.


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Sheltered in California

In my ignorance and sheltered California life, I can't imagine. I can only read about such atrocities and wonder how we let such things happen. How could the world be such a cold and calloused place that such horrors are allowed to happen to people just because of the hue of their skin? Have we changed? Have we gotten better? Are we now a nation where those kinds of things don't happen anymore? Did Maya Angelou leave a better place than she grew up in? I would love to say, yes. But the real truth is that a country or people who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I'm afraid that is where we stand.

Do you think the world/United States is racially a better place than it was 50 years ago?

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      We lost so many icons and classic celebrities this last year. Sad.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @delia-delia: Thank you for your comment. I agree. Why can't people just grow up? It's a mystery to me.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 

      4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Prejudice is a terrible thing, the lack of understanding or being closed minded, shows ignorance. Maya was a courageous woman...

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @DebMartin: Yes.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 

      4 years ago

      RIP, Maya.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @judithcheng lm: Indeed. Thank you for visiting my lens.

    • judithcheng lm profile image

      judithcheng lm 

      4 years ago

      Yes, Maya Angelou is an original, she will be miss!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Pat Broker: Thank you so much.

    • Pat Broker profile image

      Pat Broker 

      4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Love your heartfelt review!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @captainj88: Thank you so much. What a kind thing to say. But I'm sure I'm not in the same league with Maya Angelou.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      4 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Great review. We've lost a light in the darkness, but I'm glad that through writers like you, her message will continue to be shared.

    • astevn816 lm profile image

      astevn816 lm 

      4 years ago

      congrats on lens of the day

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @anonymous: Thank you.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @SteveKaye: Wow, thank you. That is praise indeed.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @SusanDeppner: Absolutely!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Wonderful review! I watched the film clips last night on TV when they covered her passing and, knowing just a little of what she went through in her life, it was such a joy to see her pleasant face and hear her amazingly soothing voice. She truly was an American icon and will be missed.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 

      4 years ago

      You did more than write a book review, you wrote a tribute to a wonderful person. Thank you for publishing this. And congratulations on receiving the LOTD.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      4 years ago

      Excellent review. Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Brite-Ideas: Thank you. That was my intent: to encourage people to read a well-worthy book.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @takkhisa: Thank you.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @sybil watson: That is a good word for her life. Triumph!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Diana Wenzel: Absolutely.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Merrci: Thank you. It is well worth the read. Don't get me wrong, among the sad and serious times there are some funny things in the book too.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @writerkath: So true. Thank you.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Congratulation on Lens of the Day! Well done review. I've never read the book, but now it looks like I will have to!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Dressage Husband: Thank you so much. I thought it was about her but didn't want to presume.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 

      4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      I was listening to an interview with Maya Angelou on the CBC this morning and she was the little girl about whom she wrote. Her works are powerful and true testimonies as to to what happens in today's world. Wells done on the LOD award today!

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 

      4 years ago

      Congratulations on your LotD! It is, indeed, a sad day whenever we lose a beautiful voice...

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      4 years ago from Colorado

      Congrats on LotD! The force of her experiences infuse Maya Angelou's many creative works with a soaring power, grit, passion, and energy that was her life spirit.

    • profile image

      sybil watson 

      4 years ago

      This is one of my favorite books too-she was such a gifted writer. I don't think that most of us can understand all she suffered and how she triumphed.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 

      4 years ago

      May her soul rest in peace! Congrats on LotD and it is a great review.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      An Incredible Woman and a great loss - she contributed so much; you're review is terrific too, and I've never read this but of course you've made me want to read it

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Heidi Vincent: Thank you.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      @Heidi Vincent: Thank you. I think it has gone underground too!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 

      4 years ago from GRENADA

      Nice review!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 

      4 years ago from GRENADA

      Nice review!

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