Maya Angelou’s autobiographical novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, traces the award-winning author’s life, from an early childhood during the Great Depression, to her young adulthood. Angelou describes her personal struggles as an African-American growing up in a segregated society. Sent with her brother, Bailey, to stay with their grandmother in the backwater town of Stamps, Arkansas, the young girl, named Marguerite, experiences racial prejudice and abuse. When the children briefly return to their mother’s home, Marguerite is the victim of a tragic attack that scars her emotionally, and the shattered girl condemns herself to years of silence. Moving between Arkansas and California, Marguerite turns for a time to a group of homeless teenagers for friendship, and with them she gains a new sense of identity and independence. The story details other important episodes in the heroine’s life, ending on an uplifting note: Marguerite has graduated from high school, and assumed adult responsibilities. Teen readers will identify with this coming-of-age novel, and learn to view American society with fresh eyes.