The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros, traces the coming-of-age of Esperanza Cordero through a series of stories about her family, neighborhood, and secret dreams. The novel begins when her family move into a new house, the first they have ever owned, on Mango Street in Chicago. Esperanza is disappointed by the red, ramshackle house. It is not at all the dreamhouse her parents had always talked about, nor is it the house high on a hill that Esperanza vows to one day own herself.
As the new girl on the block, Esperanza observes many of life's joyous and harsh realities while meeting her Mango Street neighbors. Her first friend, Cathy, is a short-lived friendship because Cathy's father quickly moves the family away because the neighborhood is getting bad. Two other young sisters named Lucy and Rachel, however, adopt Esperanza into their circle when she chips in money to help them buy a bicycle. Lucy and Rachel help Esperanza through the wonders of growing up by inventing rhymes about hips and parading around Mango Street in high-heeled shoes.
As the novel progresses, Esperanza starts to get excited when boys on the street or at a dance look at her; however, two instances of sexual violence destroy Esperanza's illusions of true love and her first kiss. Her friend Sally's behavior also contributes to Esperanza's negativity and caution when dealing with boys. Nevertheless, Esperanza remains determined to give herself a good life and find a nice man. She refuses to seek out a man to "escape," because she has seen too many neighbors unhappy in marriage. Ruthie, for example, has run away from her husband and has lost her senses; young Rafaela is so beautiful that her husband locks her indoors when he leaves. The tragedy which hits Esperanza the hardest though, is that of Sally. Her friend, who, like Esperanza only wanted to dream and share love, is first beaten by her father to prevent Sally ruining the family with her "dangerous" beauty. To escape, Sally, though underage, marries a traveling salesman and the cycle of abuse continues. Enraged and saddened by her friend's tragedy, Esperanza vows to leave Mango street, become a writer, and build her dream home.
This story was short but amazing because of how relatable each character and moment was. The House on Mango Street gives us a view of what it is like to grow up in a poor neighborhood as an adolescent. The story is very similar in its setting and plot to the film, “Crooklyn”. I personally loved every second of reading it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good quick read.