House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Title: House on Mango Street
Author: Sandra Cisneros
Country: US (1984)
Pages: 134
Genre: Fiction, Classics
Rating: *****

The House on Mango Street seemed to be one of those novellas that every Freshman Comp class but mine! It's taken many years, but I've finally picked it up (even if by accident).

I really like how Cisneros organized HoMS. I read the foreword by her and thought it was interesting that initially when she was writing this in college, it was to be autobiographical. Somehow, however, Mango Street was created with all of these wonderful little characters that encompassed many different traits of all the people she had come to know in life.

HoMS is told in 44 little vignettes. Is that right? How would you identify the miniature sections that are too short to be chapters, really. Definitely too short to be essays! I read somewhere someone refer to them as sections. Perhaps so. In any event, the sections are told in first person by the main character, Esperanza.

Esperanza shares her experiences living in a run-down house on Mango Street, a place where in one of the "sections" Esperanza shares how people avert their eyes disbelieving that anyone could inhabit their home. Her stories share how she deals with her hispanic culture, her female-ness, and her adolescence.

Cisneros uses metaphors and similes to talk about emotional and serious issues such as racism and prejudice. Esperanza voices how many people who come walking into her neighborhood are fearful of the folks that live there and how it's hard to believe because she knows them all so well, and knows them to be harmless. Alternatively, she ends the passage sharing their reaction when outside of their comfort zone. Ironically quite similar!

Some of my favorite sections? I was very fond of Hips, where the girls discuss why women have hips. Esperanza declares that hips are scientific - they're bones that "let you know which skeleton was a man's when it was a man and which a woman's" (59). And perhaps one of the most popular sections, and one that I had red many moons ago, is "Names". Here, Esperanza shares not just the origin of her name, and what it means in her culture, but how difficult of a name it is, and how she longs to have something simpler.

Mango Street isn't just a street; it's a community.


  1. I never read this for school either, but after reading your review, I'll add it to my list.

  2. Charley - I wish I could have done a better job reviewing the book. I just don't feel as though I gave it enough. Mango Street is one of those books that feels as though you read a friend's childhood journal with the imagery and writing of a poet.


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