The House on Mango Street is an novella holding a beautiful story of a unique girl told in an intriguing way. The book breaks from standard storytelling procedures and instead tells the story of a young girl, Esperanza, growing up on Mango Street by way of short vignettes. Some heartwarming, some terrifying, these vignettes tell the story of a girl trying to discover who she is and how to live in the world around her.
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.