Title: The House on Mango Street Author: Sandra Cisneros Publisher: Arte Público Press; January 1, 1984, paperback Format: Paperback, Pgs 110 Genre: Memoir
When I first picked up this book, I was expecting a straightforward story of Esperanza, a young Latino girl growing up in a city.
What I found were vignettes narrated in the first person present tense that takes the reader through this young girl’s life. She is determined to leave her impoverished Chicago neighborhood, but to do so, there is so much that she has to say good-bye to. So much that is and always will be a part of her. There is one promise that she makes, that rings throughout the book, if you leave, you must come back for the ones that are left behind.
The house on Mango Street is not the one that her parents told her about, the one that they dreamed about. It is not beautiful and white with indoor stairs and pipes that work. It is shabby and red, but this is where she and her sibling are to grow up. In a neighborhood that teaches them and scares them and helps them to dream.
As the stories unfold, you see Esperanza growing from an inquisitive youngster to an adolescent. Where boys are to be watched but also your friends until that one horrible encounter where he life is turned upside down.
The ways of the world were not hidden from Esperanza; she sees how women are held down, how men can be abusive, how the nuns are not always fair. That does not stop her from wanting more. One day she will leave and one day she will return.
Though a short book, it took me a while to fall into its rhythm and to become mesmerized by the amazing young woman that Esperanza was growing into. You hope for her, you wish for her, but most importantly, you hope and wish for the ones that she will come back for.