Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book review: Gather Together in My Name

I finished reading Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou.  It is the second part of her autobiography, following I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which I read when I was in high school.  The part of her autobiography was really interesting because she ended up dong a bunch of things that I had no idea she had done.  I absolutely LOVE Maya Angelou so I tend to enjoy everything she writes.

In this book she is raising her son while trying to make a living.  Sh holds a bunch of different jobs all of which she seems to get completely by chance.  She keeps getting involved with men and then having to move because something goes wrong.   She gets a job as a creole cook even though she has no idea how to cook creole.  While working as a waitress, she meets two lesbian prostitutes and then ends up becoming their madam and then leaving town because they are angry with her.

She tries to join the army, but at the last minute is turned away because when she was a teenager she studied dance at a school that was supposedly communist, even though she had no idea.  After that she has a brief stint as a dance partner for a tap dancer, who ends up going back to his previous dance partner.  Then she meets another man, who tells her that he is a man with a gambling problem in an unhappy marriage.  He convinces her that he is going to leave his wife and marry her, but that he has to pay off some of his gambling debt first.  She agrees to help him pay off his debt by working as a prostitute for a month or so.  She eventually figures out that he isn't who he said he is and is instead a pimp with several other prostitutes working for him.

The book ends when she is trying to figure out what to do next to support her and her son.  She briefly considers giving up because she is so frustrated by everything that's happened to her, but realizes in the end that she has too much promise to not use it.

This book was definitely interesting because of everything that happens to her in it (and believe me, I haven't covered it all!) but it wasn't one of my favorites.  I thought that she was really struggling to find herself and her morals during this period of her life.  It was worth reading, but I would read either I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings or A Song Flung Up to Heaven because I think they are much better books.

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