The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Source: Purchased at Public Library Book Sale
Paperback, 110 pages
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The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is a coming-of-age story about Esperanza Cordero in a Latino neighborhood on Mango Street in Chicago.  She doesn’t remember much of the time before Mango Street, and it is clear that things were both good and bad there.  Neighbors she knew were hit by their husbands, while others had given up on their dreams simply because they got married.  In many ways these stories are woven together and are lyrical enough that they could be an epic poem about growing up as an immigrant in America.

Each short vignette tells a story from Esperanza’s point of view, revealing the harsh realities of growing up in an area other people are afraid to step foot in.

“All brown all around, we are safe.  But watch us drive into a neighborhood of another color and our knees go shakity-shake and our car windows get rolled up tight and our eyes look straight.”  (page 28)

Esperanza is growing up and learning how to become a woman, running in the city streets in heels an old lady hands her and her friends.  At the same time, she’s struggling to hold onto her childhood, while she’s admiring the older girls in the neighborhood wearing make-up and nylons.  She’s naive about relationships between girls and boys and she finds herself in situations where she can be taken advantage of, thanks to those she trusts.  But she also comforts her father when he cries.

“They don’t walk like ordinary dogs, but leap and somersault like an apostrophe and comma.” (page 71)

Cisneros paints a bleak picture as seen through Esperanza’s eyes, but at the same time she allows her character to feel something beyond the confines of her neighborhood.  She does not want to be that woman who merely looks at the possibilities and wallows in sadness and regret.  The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros pays homage to these struggling women in a cadence, and she ensures readers not only glimpse a life that may be unfamiliar but that still contains a sliver of hope.

About the Author:

Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954. Internationally acclaimed for her poetry and fiction, she has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lannan Literary Award and the American Book Award, and of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacArthur Foundation. Cisneros is the author of two novels The House on Mango Street and Caramelo; a collection of short stories, Woman Hollering Creek; two books of poetry, My Wicked Ways and Loose Woman; and a children’s book, Hairs/Pelitos. She is the founder of the Macondo Foundation, an association of writers united to serve underserved communities (www.macondofoundation.org), and is Writer in Residence at Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio.

This is my 58th book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #231

Mailbox Monday (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  August’s host is Bermudaonion The Reading Fever.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received/bought:

1.  Lake Como by Anita Hughes from the author for review this month.

Hallie Elliot has a perfect life. She is an up-and-coming interior designer in one of San Francisco’s most sought after firms, and has just recently become engaged to Peter, a brilliant young journalist. But when she stumbles upon Peter and her boss in what seems to be a compromising position, her trust in her perfect life is shaken.

So Hallie escapes to Lake Como, Italy to spend time with her half-sister, Portia Tesoro, an Italian blueblood dealing with the scandal of a public estrangement from her cheating husband. While staying in the Tesoro villa, Hallie falls in love with the splendor and beauty of Lake Como, and finds work designing the lakeside estate of a reclusive American tech mogul. The caretaker of this beautiful estate is a handsome man named Angus, and Hallie finds herself drawn to his charm and kindness, despite hints of a dark secret in his past.

2.  Flow: The Life and Times of Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River by Beth Kephart, which I purchased from an Amazon third-party.

From acclaimed writer Beth Kephart, author of A Slant of Sun, comes a short, imaginative telling of the life of the Schuylkill River, which has served as the source of Philadelphia’s water, power, industry, and beauty for the city’s entire life.  Before that, it fed the indigenous people who preceded William Penn, and has since time immemorial shape our region.

3.  The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, which I purchased at the library.

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.

4.  Joyland by Stephen King, which I purchased from the library.

Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.

What did you receive?