Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Review of 'The House on Mango Street' by Sandra Cisneros

"Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence, 'The House on Mango Street' is the story of Esperanza Cordero, a young girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago.  For Esperanza, Mango Street is a desolate landscape of concrete and run-down tenements, where she discovers the hard realities of life-- the fetters of class and gender, the specter of racial enmity, the mysteries of sexuality, and more.  Capturing her thoughts and emotions in poems and stories, Esperanza is able to rise above hopelessness, and create for herself 'a house all my own... quiet as snow, a space for myself to go,' in the midst of her oppressive surroundings.  

Brilliantly evocative, hauntingly lyrical, intensely compelling, 'The House on Mango Street' signals the emergence of a major new literary talent."

This was another book that I had to read for my YA Lit class. It's a very fast read, since the "chapters" are more like sketches or vignettes rather than chapters that rely heavily on each other to tell the rest of the story.  They could be stand-alone pieces, if you wanted them to be.  I liked that style because it was concise, but I didn't like it at the same time because I didn't get a chance to truly know the characters.  The vignettes were interesting, but as far as what happened to the characters, it was like reporting with poetry.  I felt so distant from what was happening in the overall story.  It's like when you're sitting at home reading the Sunday paper and you read about something horrendous happening across the world.  You stop and acknowledge it thinking, "Well, that's not good" or "Wow, that's really awful!" but then you turn the page and there's the next horrible thing that you have to think about.  You feel very detached from the action and injustice.  I think this was mostly due to the format of the writing.

There were a few parts that were shocking to read and they did get a reaction from me.  For example, there is a part where these three girls find some fancy shoes that their mothers would wear, so they put them on outside of their house and start walking up and down the street in a pair of red heels (those were their favorite).  Suddenly a man at the grocery store pokes his head out and he's like, "Hey, what are you doing where shoes like that?  You're too young to be wearing such shoes."  Something like that.  Basically, "You're going to send the wrong message to people."  That really made me mad.  Just because a woman wants to look nice and/or feel good by wearing heels or some other nice piece of clothing doesn't mean she's sending, "That Message" to men wherever she goes.  These girls are still young.  They're just playing.  Chill, dude.

'The House on Mango Street' is something that I would like to give a second read-through, but because I'm so torn between liking this book and disliking it, I will have to give it a little bit of time.

Overall, I would recommend this book if you're interested in learning about Hispanic culture in American society, social inequality, and are looking for a short read.

I give 'The House on Mango Street':
Thanks for Reading!


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