The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is one of those quiet books that takes you completely by surprise. Esperanza Cordero is a Mexican-American girl who lives in poverty. She tells her story of growing up in the Mexican quarter of Chicago in a series of vignettes. Cisneros writing is absolutely beautiful, lyrical, authentic, and haunting. Esperanza’s words will stay with you long after you finish the last page.
Esperanza dreams of someday living in a beautiful home away from the poor run down neighborhoods she has lived in growing up. Despite how often she has seen how hard life is for those around her as well as herself, she still has hope. This is very fitting since her name in Spanish means hope. This book reads like a Esperanza’s journal. She shares stories of the colorful characters that live in her neighborhood, even the dangerous ones.
At first glance her words are misleading in their simplicity. Looking further into her stories you will see past the humor, imagery, poetic rhythm and realize this goes much deeper than just a girl talking about how she wishes for more than what she was dealt. Through Esperanza’s narrative Cisneros touches on many pertinent challenges that young women have to overcome, especially those of the Mexican-American community.
“Everything is holding its breath inside of me. Everything is waiting to explode like Christmas. I want to be new and shiny.”
I fell in love with this book. It made me laugh and cry because I could relate to so many things Esperanza goes through growing up. It is one of those books that you read through it and love it for it’s humor and beautiful writing. Then you go back and read it again and again because of it’s depth. Cisneros brings to light so many ugly things that young girls growing up in the Mexican-American community have to overcome. Social issues like racism from outsiders and dangers within their own community like domestic violence, sexual harassment, and rape. Despite all of this there is still a feeling of hope for a better life. I would recommend this book to anyone.