It s a little after 2am I m having the dreams The ones that blindside me and have that weird echo is or isn t this real Sleep isn t going to happen What s new I leave my room to check out the house Doors locked Check Kids asleep Check whoa, hold up a minute Em is awake She s sitting in the living room illuminated by a booklite She s got about 4 blankets piled on top of her and she s reading Reading I m used to the insomnia, on both our parts we knock around each other, say a few words and pretend to sleep It s routine by now But, to see her reading She looks up at me and there are tears in her eyes Okay, now I m really testing that reality theory Mom, have you ever read The House on Mango Street Huh I look over the book No Never even heard of it A novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago Okay assigned to a freshman English class in Northern Vermont Where ethnicity is reserved for the Somalian refugees that pepper Burlington, but hardly touch the suburbs I ll bite I pick it up, it s maybe an hour s read Tops We didn t always live on Mango Street Then, I m lost This is lyrical, this is heart wrenching Words are married, sentences consummated, images borne that my white bread, New England raised mind can t comprehend except on an emotional level I m in loveShe looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow You can never have too much sky You can fall asleep and wake up drunk on sky, and sky can keep you safe when you are sad Here there is too much sadness and not enough sky Everything is holding its breath inside of me Everything is waiting to explode like Christmas I want to be new and shiny You know what you are Esperanza You are like the Cream of Wheat cereal You re like the lumps But I think diseases have no eyes They pick with a dizzy finger anyone, just anyone There were sunflowers as big as flowers on Mars and thick cockscombs bleeding the deep red fringe of theater curtains There were dizzy bees and bow tied fruit flies turning somersaults and humming in the air Sweet sweet peach trees Thorn roses and thistle and pears Weeds like so many squinty eyed stars and brush that made your ankles itch and itch until you washed with soap and water I m caught in this world that Cisnero s painted for me I m hugging Alice who sees mice and wishing that Sire would hold my hand I m drinking papaya juice with Rafaela and reading Minerva s poems I m hiding from Red Clowns.I m nostalgic for my own childhood For that freedom that kids today cannot relate to They have curfews, and GPS chips in cell phones, and mini LoJacks implanted in their neck What do they know of freedom What do they know about riding their ten speed through dark streets guided by the screams of their friends ahead of them Will they ever hang out in vacant lots with their friend s older brothers who hand them warm beer and try to feel up their shirts Hell no, not on my watch So, thank you, Sandra Cisnero Thanks for giving me back all those summer nightsThey will not know that I have gone away to come back For the ones I ve left behind For the ones who cannot out Partly biographical, partly fiction, this wonderful book by Sandra Cisneros is an influential coming of age story that is still being used in schools today Cisneros, born in Chicago in 1954 to Mexican parents, an only girl with 7 brothers, experienced a transient early childhood as the family moved back and forth from Chicago to Mexico But when she was 11 they settled down and bought a house in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago, predominantly Puerto Rican, and it was from her life experiences there she drew the ideas for her stories in The House on Mango Street As a child she experienced the inequalities that were connected to her culture, her gender, and her poor working class family Nevertheless, she persisted , and these experiences come to life in the character of Esperanza Cordero They are told in little vignettes, short stories with a poetic feel to them This book reminded me in many ways of Jacqueline Woodson s, Brown Girl Dreaming I think this one is in that must read category 4.5 stars. Book Review4 out of 5 stars to The House on Mango Street, a short series of vignettes published in 1984 and written by Sandra Cisneros Picture it Long Island, August 1995 18 year old college student receives a letter in the mail, revealing two books he must read prior to attending the freshmen orientation seminar on his first day of college later that month Young kid says They re giving me work to do already WT It went something like that And it wasn t that I didn t want to read, and I was a good student, but seriously I m scared of going off to college and already being told to start doing some work Can t I have some break before I never mind So I read it And wow, it s fantastic A short collection of stories about growing up in Chicago, learning how to live on your own sort of Meeting different people Seeing other sides of life Learning than you thought was out there Embracing change and culture.Oh I get it that s what s about to happen to me Wow nice book Thanks So then I get to the orientation And they want us to discuss it in a random group that was set up So we get put in groups of 6 I m with some weird looking people At 18, I looked about 12 still For some reason, I got stuck with the other 18 year olds who looked 28 I wanted to call them mom and dad But I knew better I kept my mouth shut Sandra Cisneros has just taught me that So I m very shy and don t say a word No one speaks I realize I guess I must say something So I said I liked it a lot Everyone nodded I said something like what did you think I ll save you the drama None of them read it I was the only one who did How embarrassing for them It was so good but I played it cool and described the plot It seemed to open up the conversation, but then we were asked to nominate a leader to step up to the stage and explain your group s understanding of the book Oh you know vengeance some day paybackMy lesson Don t ever read a book again JUST KIDDING You must read this one It s a beautiful story and helps you embrace change and difference And the characters are quite memorable and quirky Quick read Maybe 2 hours You should definitely give it a chanceAbout MeFor those new to me or my reviews here s the scoop I read A LOT I write A LOT And now I blog A LOT First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at where you ll also find TV Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I ve visited all over the world And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who what when where and my pictures Leave a comment and let me know what you think Vote in the poll and ratings Thanks for stopping by. I make a story for my life, for each step my brown shoe takes Esperanza Cordero, a Mexican American girl living in poverty, gives a soaring voice to a multitude of characters who otherwise would remain in darkness all their pitiful lives Echoing the undying optimism even in the most wretched place, Esperanza stands for sunny days, for light and memories In the midst of countless insignificant young adult books, The House On Mango Street is an exception Awe inspiring writing with a powerful message duly delivered. Acclaimed By Critics, Beloved By Readers Of All Ages, Taught Everywhere From Inner City Grade Schools To Universities Across The Country, And Translated All Over The World, The House On Mango Street Is The Remarkable Story Of Esperanza Cordero Told In A Series Of Vignettes Sometimes Heartbreaking, Sometimes Deeply Joyous It Is The Story Of A Young Latina Girl Growing Up In Chicago, Inventing For Herself Who And What She Will Become Few Other Books In Our Time Have Touched So Many Readers The description on goodreads describes this as a novel It is not a novel It isn t a collection of stories either The word is vignette snapshots of significant moments, people, in young Esperanza s day to day life, sprinkled with her understanding that she will leave this House on Mango Street, and the Houses not on Mango Street that could be on Mango Street, and write, but that Mango Street will never leave her There is no central plot line or conflict Some characters go as quick as we meet them, while others linger throughout the book, or pop in here and there It could be a journal, if Esperanza were a real girl writing in Chicago But while the vignette style of the book lacks the conventions of short stories or a novel, The House on Mango Street shares one thing with those traditional literary fiction forms by the end of the book, Esperanza is changed The snapshots she s stepped through and documented on paper have opened her eyes in a new way and she sees new avenues for her future She s transformed from a child to a young adult Each vignette is different and entertaining Some sad, some funny, some dreamy, some fierce I was 16 when my grandmother gave me this book for Christmas, and I think it rejuvenated my love for reading books, GOOD BOOKS I d been stuck on novels for school and Mary Higgins Clark since I turned 12 and reading Cisnernos led me to college to study English literature No joke.Also, though I already knew I wanted to be a writer, this book opened my eyes to the excitement and versatility of voice in fiction The writer s use of a young first person point of view as the voice through to convey the often difficult, unsavory realities in the adult world appealed to me greatly Subsequently, I ve been drawn to using this style of POV ever since. , Original pub date 1984 This is another one of those reading list classics that I figured I should try Especially since it s really short The book consists entirely of vignettes from the author s childhood in a poor section of Chicago The writing is beautiful and spare no vignette is longer that 2 or 3 pages and the font is huge and widely spaced It reads like poetry, really the words are potent and evocative rather than exhaustively descriptive.My reading of this book actually had some unexpected bonus material I picked my copy up at a library used book sale in Maine, and the previous owner appears to have been a slightly dim witted 8th or 9th grader who felt obliged to write inane comments in all the margins When the author describes her annoyance at a tag along little sister who just doesn t get it, the margins shout, Is Nenny retarded An odd neighbor gets the same treatment Is Ruthie retarded By the time we get to the author s lovely description of her own weakness and vulnerability, a comparison between her and the skinny trees in front of her house, we ve graduated to, Eating disorder Why is she so thin Sigh Pop psychology has clearly killed future generations ability to process art RIP, intelligent thought. I found the introduction filled with unintended ironies Cisneros said she wanted to write a book that you could turn to any page and find it accessible For one thing, she said she was abandoning quotation marks to streamline the typography and make the page as simple and readable as possible Really Personally, as far as I m concerned, punctuation marks are our friends Quotation marks in the most economical way signal that we are reading a conversation, and through conventions such as alternating paragraphs tell us this is an exchange between two people Conventions help readability Lack of quotation marks tell us we re in literary fiction land of difficult, dense prose beloved of academics not a readable story the ordinary reader will enjoy In fact, it has become my policy if an author doesn t use quotation marks to shut the book and back away slowly Why didn t I do that Because I read this was a celebrated book about the Hispanic American experience Cisneros is fairly close to me in age, like me grew up in a big city Chicago rather than New York and like me has a Latino background Mexican rather than Puerto Rican In other words, I thought I might identify, recognize commonalities in our experiences that would give me insight into what is accidental and incidental in my family experience and what comes out of being Hispanic, or at least something that took me back to my childhood with my family.But really, I didn t last long despite my resolutions I just hated the book s structure and style so much Cisnero also says in her introduction that when she wrote this she didn t realize she wasn t writing a novel since she hadn t heard of story cycles You know what I still don t think what she wrote was a novel Not remotely A novel isn t any work you say it is within two covers I doubt this is long enough for one I d be very surprised if it came to even 30,000 words That s a novella at best not a novel But also a novel represents a certain structure, and I don t think a series of short linked prose poems about a character Esperanza Cordro cuts it Many of the 45 chapters didn t even come to 150 words And people think James Patterson is terse The prose was rambling, repetitive, and to me, instead of coming across as genuine seemed oh, the sort of pretentious artificial thing I ve seen a thousand times among a certain left wing literati of all kinds of ethnicities that to me seems the very opposite of diverse yet seems to define it among many Yeah, I totally believe this is often assigned in schools Maybe that accounts for its bestseller status I didn t for a moment believe this was the first person voice of a young teen girl coming of age That it was written by someone attending an elite poetry workshop as told in the introduction That I believe So yeah, so not something I enjoyed or that matched the hype in the blurbs and back cover. A short sequence of colorful vignettes, full of vivid dialogue and striking images, The House on Mango Street tells the coming of age tale of its protagonist Esperanza Written in simple prose that often borders on poetry, the novel takes on difficult subjects such as grief, oppression, poverty, and shame, as well as themes of friendship, family, hope, and joy Throughout all the novel, though, Esperanza maintains her resilience and grit as she struggles to find a sense of belonging in a neighborhood and society hostile to her existence.
www.macondofoundation.org , and is Writer in Residence at Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio She lives in San Antonio, Texas.
- 110 pages
- The House on Mango Street
- Sandra Cisneros
- 10 July 2017 Sandra Cisneros