Book Review: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

house on mango street

This book isn’t so much a novel but a collection of vignettes. It’s a coming-of-age story about Esperanza Cordero and her life as a young Latino girl growing up in Chicago. It’s little snippets of her life and environment and the people around her.

I read the introduction first, which caused me to immediately fall in love with the story. Sandra Cisneros wrote about wanting to write beautiful little stories for people who work, because they’re tired in the evenings and don’t have much time. She tells of her experiences and how it led to Esperanza’s story and all the little things that made the little stories. I would definitely read this introduction before beginning the book.

The actual book is so gorgeous. Her writing style is very unique in that yes, the stories are all short and simple. She doesn’t have long confusing sentences or descriptions that last paragraphs. Instead, she’s able to write about whatever little thing she’s focusing on with a clear, concise voice. But it isn’t rigid. It’s soft and flowing and contains figurative language and all those things that make this book literary. Each story has so many details without being extraneous. How she describes the house and the trees makes even an ugly neighborhood beautiful.

This really isn’t like any other book I’ve read. It’s not really in any sort of order. Cisneros said in the introduction that she wanted it to be a story that you could flip to any page and start on any chapter and understand everything. With this in mind, there’s no ordinary connection between the reader and the characters. We don’t grow up with Esperanza or go on an adventure with her or anything. We just get little glimpses into her life; we see the little things she sees.

The book is big on people watching. Cisneros hone in on little, ordinary things and writes about it in a way to show the beauty/ horror of the situation. Things we take for granted, things that happen everyday, things that may surprise us. Actually, in a way, we do watch Esperanza grow up, but it’s not from a third-party view. It’s like we are Esperanza; we can relate her experiences to our own or feel exactly what happened to her as if it happened to us. Cisneros really writes about life in general, it’s absurdities, it’s routines, it’s interesting qualities. There really isn’t any other way to describe this other than beautiful.

The book definitely granted me a surplus of quotes. If I could remember any of them, I’d write them in, but alas…. I can remember little paraphrases and such. One of the stories about a teenage girl in the neighborhood was about her waiting and smoking for someone to rescue her from her life. It wasn’t really devastatingly sad or happy, but just true. Some people just wait, and that’s just how life goes. I had my arms stained blue after reading this.

Obviously, I recommend it. It’s like poetry, but easy to understand and not restricted to stanzas and such. If I ever became a writer, this is how I image my style would be similar to. I’m horrible at putting together lengthy novels about one subject and sticking with the theme, but I think writing about different people and little defining events would be wonderful. This book took me all of two days to read, and I’m sure you could read it in one sitting if you wanted.

5 Stars

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One thought on “Book Review: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

  1. Pingback: Monthly Wrap Up: Free from February | Stealing Pages

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