The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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.


I rather enjoyed this short little book. It has an interesting structure, which takes some getting use to. Cisneros chose to forego many of the traditional literary structures, such as indenting dialogue, which at first made the prose hard to follow. Once I got used to it, I kind of liked it. It made the stories read more like a stream of consciousness. 

It is a very short read, with each vignette amounting to a few pages each. There is no real story line, but rather each vignette serves as a snapshot of a moment in the life of Esperanza, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago. Some of the stories are funny, some are sad, some read like poetry, some deal with heavy subject matter, others are more lighthearted. There are some things that are probably unique to the Mexican experience, but there are also a lot of universal threads dealing with identify, family, expectations, insecurity, gender, etc. 

I feel like this is a book that requires multiple readings to fully comprehend and unpack. It's simplicity is duplicitous, and I think there is a lot more going on in this novel than what first meets the eye. After only one reading I can appreciate why it often makes classic literature lists, and hope to re-read it again in the near future.     

2015 Reading Challenge: A book that came out the year you were born

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