In this dull entry in the Rainbow Biography series, Pettit (A Time to Fight Back, 1996, etc.) sets out to tell the story of a ""remarkable woman who has survived the pain of abandonment, the anguish of child abuse, and the hatred of racial intolerance."" The abandonment, abuse, and hatred are dutifully chronicled from the time the girl who would become Maya, age three, and her four-year-old brother are shipped off to live in Stamps, Arkansas--Klan country--to her rape in St. Louis at age eight by her mother's boyfriend, date rape, teen pregnancy, and two marriages. Angelou becomes a poet, performer, and civil rights activist and, in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, turns her harsh early life into art. Incredibly, not a word of her poetry or prose appears in this perfunctory rendering.