The House on Mango Street (1984)

by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street received much praise for its Mexican American author, but whether a reader likes it as much as the critics did depends on taste. It is different, not really a novel, though it’s labeled as such. It’s a collection of 44 episodic vignettes that fall somewhere between prose and poetry, don’t follow a story line, and are connected only by the narrator, Esperanza, a sensitive girl living in the barrio in Chicago.

In the coming-of-age book Esperanza reflects on her life and that of the people in her Mango Street neighborhood. She is a young girl in the earliest vignettes, embarrassed by the house her family lives in, hoping to escape poverty and make something of herself. Relating the doings of Esperanza, her little sister, and people from the Latino neighborhood, the vignettes concern such themes as the condition of women and the hazards posed by the opposite sex. At the end of the book Esperanza realizes that she will someday leave Mango Street, but it will never leave her.

The House on Mango Street has been taught in high schools across the United States and Canada and translated into other languages.


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