8 Idolized Things about Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou

Nikki’s Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary: Beloved poet and author Maya Angelou takes us back to her childhood. Raised by her religious grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya endures abandonment, racism, and rape. But most importantly, this memoir is about how she overcame these and found hope, love, and herself through so many trials and tribulations.

8 Idolized Things about Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Writing

First and foremost, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is written beautifully, as is all Maya Angelou’s work. While I prefer her poetry, Angelou is a phenomenal author and writes eloquently with great description and a knack for using words effectively to capture emotions.

2. Pacing

Memoirs and/or biographies can be very dry and unengaging, just a statement of facts and dates without any real purpose or emotional connections. Thankfully, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings does not have this problem. Pacing throughout this memoir was good and each story was filled with emotional engagement that will draw readers in.

3. Racism

Obviously a great amount of Maya Angelou’s upbringing was overshadowed by racism being an African American woman. Angelou describes the experiences she had with racism and readers are able to feel the wrongness of such attitudes even when they were not meant to be malicious. Such as Angelou not being able to get emergency dental work done simply because she was “colored” or her boss calling Angelou by the wrong name simply because she didn’t want to take the time to say her real name. Racism is not about hurting others because of their color, it is about treating them differently because of their color.

4. Rape

Any woman who comes forward and tells her story of being raped is courageous beyond measure. While incredibly hard to read, Angelou’s experience of rape is shared by countless women and it is vital that she shared it. Obviously this trauma shaped who she was but more importantly, it may help other women to share their story or help them understand they are not alone and their feelings of shame, confusion, self-hatred, anger, despair, and/or fear are valid.

5. Humanity

While humanity is not exclusively all bad, the human race has done and continues to do some terrible shit. In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Angelou paints the picture of both the good and bad aspects of humanity that she has seen in her life but one line that really resonated with me was:

“As a species, we were an abomination. All of Us.”

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6. Reading

Being an avid reader and loving to devour books, it is so meaningful when an author shares this enjoyment as well. And Angelou describes the magic and enchantment of reading so well:

“To be allowed, no, invited, into the private lives of strangers, and to share their joys and fears, was a chance to exchange the Southern bitter wormwood for a cup of mead with Beowulf or a hot cup of tea and milk with Oliver Twist.”

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7. Kindness

The balance to all the bigotry, hate, and trauma Angelou endured is the kindness she experienced from others. None more so than Mrs. Bertha Flowers who threw Angelou “a life line” and was able to draw Angelou out to talking again by giving Angelou special attention, inviting her inside her home, telling her about the power of words, and lending Angelou books to read aloud. This story was a perfect example of how a simple kindness can have a tremendous effect on others and ultimately the world. Like throwing a stone in a pond, one never knows how far out their ripple of kindness will flow.

8. Overcoming

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings does not progress too far into Angelou’s life but where it ends off is shortly after becoming the first African American employed on the San Francisco streetcars and this is no small achievement. In regards to overcoming so many obstacles and becoming a woman to be reckoned with, Angelou explains:

“The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time that she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power. The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.”

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As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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5 Fearless Things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Fallout”

“Fallout” Crank Book 3

by Ellen Hopkins

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: Hunter Seth Haskins, 19 years old and living in Reno, Nevada with his maternal grandparents; Autumn Rose Shepherd, 17 and living in San Antonio, Texas being raised by her paternal aunt and grandfather; Summer Lily Kenwood, 15 years old and in the foster care system in Bakersfield, California. Three children all touched by meth by no fault of their own but through their mother. Kristina Snow has left her children to be scattered along the west coast as she runs amock with the monster with no end in sight.


5 Fearless Things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Fallout”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Children of Addicts

Ellen Hopkins does an amazing job of providing a voice that is not heard very often. The children of the drug addicts. Stigmatized and ignored, the system has failed these children in so many ways. It was refreshing but difficult to read a book from their perspectives.

2. I Love You/I Hate You

One of the most important elements seen in Ellen Hopkins’s “Fallout” is the love-hate relationships all the children have with their parents who deeply wounded them in many ways. This is true in most, if not all, parent-child relationships in which the parent is the abuser or source of trauma for the child. The child’s life depends on the parent, especially the mother, and therefore the child loves the parent. And this is why no matter how much hurt a parent does to a child, the child still loves their parent, it is survival.

3. Biological Parents

Also captured in “Fallout” is the drive for a child to know a biological parent, even if the parent already abandoned/traumatized the child in the past, especially the mother. You will see this in not just foster children who may have some memories of the biological mother, but also in children who are adopted at birth and who have no conscious memory of her. As an adopted child, I can say this is absolutely true from my own experience.

4. Attachment

Finally, another concept that Ellen Hopkins explores in her novel “Fallout” is that of attachment issues experienced by children who have experienced trauma in childhood. Often having trust issues, these children may avoid getting close to anyone or simply sabotage relationships because they don’t believe they are good enough and deserve the other person’s love

5. Writing Style

Just like “Crank” and “Glass”, Ellen Hopkins’s wrote “Fallout” in free-verse poetry. Making the novel that more interesting and powerful.

What are your favorite things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Fallout”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

7 Intriguing Things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Impulse”

“Impulse” Impulse Book 1

by Ellen Hopkins

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Tony, Conner, and Vanessa, three teenagers with one thing in common: they attempted suicide. All three are now in a psychiatric ward together and somehow become friends. As they come to grow and love each other, they explore the events that led them there. But most importantly, they need to help each other find a way to keep going, to be able to survive on the other side of the psychiatric ward walls.


7 Intriguing Things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Impulse”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Free Verse

Ellen Hopkins always writes in a unique style of free verse poetry, which makes for a quick, powerful, and fun read!

2. LGBTQ+

Inclusiveness and support of the LGBTQ+ community through having a character who identified as LGBTQ+. Also appreciated that Ellen Hopkins normalized the idea that sexuality for some individuals can be fluid and that the teenage years are filled with exploring and learning about ourselves.

3. Author with Guts

One of the most fantastic things about author Ellen Hopkins is that she writes about tough subjects, drugs, mental illness, abuse, addiction, suicide, etc. She is a badass who brings up the stigmatized and darker human aspects.

4. Mental Illness

Ellen Hopkins really captures the distorted, irrational thinking that can take place amongst those with mental illness. But most importantly she leaves you with the concept that just because someone looks “all-together” or that they come from a wealthy “good” family doesn’t mean that they are not suffering inside or that they couldn’t have mental illness.

5. Defining Sexual Assault

Another important point that Ellen Hopkins makes is that an older woman having sexual relations with a little boy is sexual assault. It is disgusting and wrong to portray such an event as anything other than sexual assault but often these situations get turned into “Oh she was just ‘teaching’ him” or “I lost my virginity to my nanny, I’m the man!”

6. Bipolar Disorder

Having bipolar disorder, I feel that Ellen Hopkins in “Impulse” really captured how bipolar disorder can express itself in people. How they may behave and may think. Total truth in regards to those with bipolar disorder often enjoying the manic episodes.

7. Medications

While many people with mental illness take medications to manage their symptoms and improve their lives, there is a piece of very important information to take into consideration when it comes to medication. That is that the situation is most dangerous and potentially life-threatening to the person and those around them when they are either first beginning or coming off of medications. In potentially all situations involving a mentally ill individual committing a heinous crime, it is not the mental illness to blame but rather the effects of psychiatric medications on the brain. And of course, the chances of suicide are extremely high during this time and Hopkins really captures that reality.

What are your favorite things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Impulse”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.