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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sing

             I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography of the life of Maya Angelou. The book begins with the divorce of her parents, and Maya and her brother Bailey moving from St. Louis to Stamps, Arkansas, where their grandmother lives. Maya deals with sudden, unexpected separation from, sexual abuse, rape, racism, poverty, death, abandonment, solitude, and uncertainty all before the age of sixteen. After leaving the safety and comfort of life with her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, Maya and her older brother Bailey travel to St. Louis to live with their mother Vivian. After almost a year of not adjusting to city life, Maya becomes the victim of a savage rape, by her mother's boyfriend. It leaves her so traumatized that she stops speaking and slowly recovers after returning to Stamps to the love and care of Momma. After proudly graduating from junior high school and entering their teenage years, Maya and Bailey again go to live with their mother. She moves to San Francisco, where Maya feels more alone and insecure than ever. She has to come to terms with the feelings and issues of being a teenager, getting a job, finishing school, watching her brother pull away to find freedom, and an unexpected pregnancy. Eventually she overcomes all the cards stacked against her to give birth to a healthy son. Throughout I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, the author lives in several towns and cities, all of which effect her differently. The fast-paced, noisy life Maya finds in St. Louis is totally foreign to her, and seems worlds away from the quiet, secure life she had in Stamps with Momma. Maya thrives and seems happiest and most comfortable in Stamps, with Momma, Bailey, and Uncle Willie. From the time that she was three until she was seven. The rural, poor southern town of Stamps was the only home that Maya knew. Maya was inspired to write her autobiography after meeting novelist James Baldwin, editor Robert Loomis, and cartoonist Jules Feiffer.

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