The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

November 9, 2017

This is my comprehensive review of the book, “The House on Mango Street,” written by Sandra Cisneros. Sandra is a Hispanic-American writer born December 20, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois. It was her childhood that inspired the novel. The book, “The House on Mango Street,” is very unique in the way that it offers a perspective not normally heard. Which the perspective of a very young Hispanic-American, this entails that the book is inclusive of the Mexican-American community. The young Hispanic-American girl being the main character, Esperanza.


The novel is structured in very short chapters and the subject of each of these chapters bounces around or changes to focus on different characters in different situations all relating to Mango Street. With the exception of many chapters focused on the main character, so there is still a story of a young Hispanic-American girl growing up incorporated. The book also does a good job at showing how the culture and surrounding Esperanza shapes her. Partly because she is only twelve years old at the start of the novel.


In the novel, Esperanza and her family into their first home on Mango Street. Mango Street and her home is in the middle of a Latino neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois. In this community, Esperanza matures and aspires to move out of the area. The poverty and violence of the community is explained through the lives of her neighbors. For example, there is the story of Sally. Who was physically abused by her father, she would come to school with very prominent bruises. So, to escape the abuse Sally moved out of state to get married to a marshmallow salesman. Her new husband was also particularly overprotective, not allowing any visitors for  Sally. This took place all before Sally was the age of thirteen. Sally is just one example of the negative effects caused by the community. Which explains Esperanza’s desires to escape the area.


However, Esperanza  doesn’t have a hatred of the community. I believe she has a kind of love for it because even as a child she acknowledges its beauty, but she also understands its danger. The beauty is the multitude of intricate and unique lives of the people in the community. The dangerous aspect is the type of lives some of them live. But on top of the intricacies of Esperanza’s community, the author also mentions how the better off people in the area have a certain attitude about her community. For example Cisneros writes, “People who live on hills sleep so close to the stars they forget those of us who live on earth. They don’t look down at all except to be content to live on hills. They have nothing to do with last week’s garbage or fear of rats. Night comes. Nothing wakes them but the wind,” (page 86 & 87). I think it teaches Esperanza humility. For example she then expresses, “One day I’ll own my own house, but I won’t forget who I am or where I came from. Passing bums will ask, Can I come in? I’ll offer them the attic, ask them to say, because I know how it is to be without a house,” (page 87).


In conclusion, “The House on Mango Street,” by Sandra Cisneros is a growing up story of a young girl with a unique perspective. I found the structure of the book hard to follow at times because of the focus jumping around to different characters. But, I understand that the structure is another aspect that gives the novel a realistic feel. Also, I enjoy that the book helps give a voice to the young latino community of the time. So, I rate the book four out of five stars.






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