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The House on Mango Street Paperback – April 3, 1991
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“A classic. . . . This little book has made a great space for itself on the shelf of American literature.” —Julia Alvarez
“Afortunado! Lucky! Lucky the generation who grew up with Esperanza and The House on Mango Street. And lucky future readers. This funny, beautiful book will always be with us.” —Maxine Hong Kingston
“Cisneros draws on her rich [Latino] heritage . . . and seduces with precise, spare prose, creat[ing] unforgettable characters we want to lift off the page. She is not only a gifted writer, but an absolutely essential one.” —Bebe Moore Campbell, The New York Times Book Review
“Marvelous . . . spare yet luminous. The subtle power of Cisneros’s storytelling is evident. She communicates all the rapture and rage of growing up in a modern world.” —San Francisco Cronicle
“A deeply moving novel...delightful and poignant. . . . Like the best of poetry, it opens the windows of the heart without a wasted word.” —Miami Herald
“Sandra Cisneros is one of the most brillant of today’s young writers. Her work is sensitive, alert, nuanceful . . . rich with music and picture.” —Gwendolyn Books
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One major struggle seen throughout the novella is that of self-definition, as every decision Esperanza makes is underscored by her struggle to define herself. In the beginning of the novel, she desperately tries to escape the identity that has been given to her by her family; she wishes she could “baptize herself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees.” Because Esperanza doesn’t even know who she herself is yet, she tries to forge an identity for herself from everything that she thinks she should be like. One such attempt is her pursuit to try to be like Sally, “the girl with eyes like Egypt and nylons the color of smoke.” However, she soon finds that she is not Sally, and she can’t force herself to be more like her. Ultimately, the subsequent journey of acceptance throughout the novella leads her to discovering how to define herself. She learns to accept where she is from, and even though she knows that “one day [she] will go away,” she will always be the girl from the house on Mango Street.
From her struggle of self-definition to many other issues she faces in the book, Esperanza is a strong and complex heroin to this strong and complex novella. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novella, and I give it four out of five stars. I thought it was a great read, but it did not deeply move me in the way a five star book would.
Esperanza is a young Latina girl growing up on Chicago. At only 110 pages she expresses happiness and sadness. But she really writes about what freedom means to her and what feeling oppressed is like. 🏡
If you have ever watched the show Jane the Virgin, she is a young Latina writer and I can see some comparisons from the book. Then in season 4 she actually talks about this book and other strong Latina female writers. That is when it reminded me, I needed to read this!
Some seem to be annoyed by her voice - I always find it interesting when an author reads her own words.
One of the most compelling arguments made by the author is the role of ambition in breaking systems of oppression. Throughout the novel, Esperanza describes being sexually assaulted by a group of boys, forcibly kissed by an old man, and her family’s impoverished condition. But, she decides that she will not become a victim of her condition. She was born in the Chinese year of the horse, as was her great-grandmother who also was named Esperanza. The main character chooses to be as strong as a horse even though she recognizes that Mexican and Chinese culture “don’t like their women strong” (p.10). Her great-grandmother was at one time “a wild horse” (p.11) until her great-grandfather reined her in. Esperanza refuses to end up the way that her great-grandmother did, even saying “[Her great-grandmother] looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn’t be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window” (p.11). She finds later in the novel that she is a gifted writer and could use that talent to leave Mango Street, which to her represents perpetual poverty and patriarchy.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It made a multitude of arguments about society, some I agreed with and some I did not. But, it gave a perspective that I do not usually hear in high school - which was refreshing. I would give this book a four out of five.
Top international reviews
Essential read if you enjoy flash fiction and short stories. The way the author writes condenses so much into so little. Clever, thought provoking and an education.
Definitely worth it.
What also stood out for me was a glimpse into Mexican culture, we learn about people trying to make sense of the world while being in a foreign land. There is a sadness in this book and the author paints a picture so vivid and so impressive that I loved every minute of it. I haven’t read a lot in Chicano literature but this one seems like a great start!
Realmente me gusto mucho es difícil no identificarte con algunas de las situaciones de la historia, siendo latino y sobre todo mexicano.
Pflichtlektüre fürs Kind (Gymnasium) das nicht begeistert war.
Lehrer kompensieren auf diese Weise ihre Bereitschaft den Unterricht mit wichtigeren
Themen (Satzbau, Grammatik, etc.) zu gestalten.
I'm actually reading it again right now.