Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Review: A Song Flung Up To Heaven by Maya Angelou

This is the final book in her autobiographical series (6 of 6) that begins with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. This book begins where number five left off: she returns home to the U.S. after living in Africa for several years. A very brief recap that is basically the same as the end of All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes begins this work.

A great deal of this book is Maya beset by tragedy and learning from it, something we all do or should do, as these unpleasant events in our lives occur. The initial reason for her return to the U.S. was to work with Malcolm X, who is assassinated almost immediately upon her return. She learns this devastating news while visiting her mother and brother in California. After there only a short time, the now famous Watt's riots break out, she visits the scene first-hand, and gives some poignant observations.

In typical fashion, Maya learns what she can from these events and moves on with her existence. She is once again asked to take part in the Civil Rights movement by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the SCLC, by visiting churches around the U.S. which, she agrees to do but, not until her birthday on April 4th, 1968. For those of you who do not remember your history, this is the date when MLK was assassinated. So now Maya must try to strive forth with the death of two friends on her conscious. The deaths of two great leaders is ultimately too much for Maya to bear. She withdraws from people and isolates herself to recover however she can.

Maya takes all of these experiences and finds a way not only to cope with them but, also to examine them and learn from them. These events, although tragic, are ultimately what finally leads her into becoming a writer and poet, permanently. The book ends with her "new beginning" and the initial creation of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

And so it goes...
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