April 16, 2004

The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros

I have been generating a reading list for each of my kids for the summer. My daughter especially needs books that will stretch her abilities a little. She tends to read things that are too easy for her and that require no thought at all. Of course, if you are going to do this to kids, you have to find Good Books that they will enjoy reading. This book is on a lot of lists for young adults and comes highly praised by Those Who Know. I've read some real clinkers recommended by TWK however, so I bought a copy and read it myself. I can see why the library has 7 copies on their shelf. It's absolutely wonderful.

The story is told in a series of vignettes ranging from a paragraph on a page to two or three pages. They are all told by Esperanza Cordero, a young Chicano living in Chicago. Mango Street is the neighborhood she lives in. Esperanza doesn't want to live on Mango Street. She doesn't want to have a strange name and she doesn't want to be Mexican. She wants more out of life than growing up to marry early and to hope that the husband comes home in a good mood. She doesn't want to belong to the culture of Mango Street. Mostly she wants to write and tell stories. In the vignettes, she tells stories about her family and her neighbors and her life, describing them all with her fresh voice and her critical eye.

The book is so well written I sat down and reread it as soon as I finished it. It's not long but in a few short vignettes, Cisneros gave me a complete picture of the world of Esperanza and what she wants from life. The writing was breathtaking. It's one of those books you want to give people with the admonition to "Read this, you'll be amazed!"

Posted by Deb English at April 16, 2004 06:39 PM