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La Casa en Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
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La Casa en Mango Street (original 1984; edition 1994)

by Sandra Cisneros, Elena Poniatowska (Translator)

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6,163156662 (3.63)151
Member:Jane_Fung
Title:La Casa en Mango Street
Authors:Sandra Cisneros
Other authors:Elena Poniatowska (Translator)
Info:Vintage (1994), Edition: Anv, Paperback, 112 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Essay

Work details

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (1984)

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English (152)  Spanish (2)  All languages (154)
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CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

On a series of vignettes, The House on Mango Street covers a year in the life of Esperanza, a Chicana (Mexican-American girl), who is about twelve years old when the novel begins. During the year, she moves with her family into a house on Mango Street. The house is a huge improvement from the family’s previous apartment, and it is the first home her parents actually own. However, the house is not what Esperanza has dreamed of, because it is run-down and small. The house is in the center of a crowded Latino neighborhood in Chicago, a city where many of the poor areas are racially segregated. Esperanza does not have any privacy, and she resolves that she will someday leave Mango Street and have a house all her own.

Esperanza matures significantly during the year, both sexually and emotionally. The novel charts her life as she makes friends, grows hips, develops her first crush, endures sexual assault, and begins to write as a way of expressing herself and as a way to escape the neighborhood. The novel also includes the stories of many of Esperanza’s neighbors, giving a full picture of the neighborhood and showing the many possible paths Esperanza may follow in the future.

After moving to the house, Esperanza quickly befriends Lucy and Rachel, two Chicana girls who live across the street. Lucy, Rachel, Esperanza, and Esperanza’s little sister, Nenny, have many adventures in the small space of their neighborhood. They buy a bike, learn exciting stories about boys from a young woman named Marin, explore a junk shop, and have intimate conversations while playing Double Dutch (jumping rope). The girls are on the brink of puberty and sometimes find themselves sexually vulnerable, such as when they walk around their neighborhood in high-heeled shoes or when Esperanza is kissed by an older man at her first job. During the first half of the year, the girls are content to live and play in their child’s world. At school, Esperanza feels ashamed about her family’s poverty and her difficult-to-pronounce name. She secretly writes poems that she shares only with older women she trusts.

Over the summer, Esperanza slips into puberty. She suddenly likes it when boys watch her dance, and she enjoys dreaming about them. Esperanza’s newfound sexual maturity, combined with the death of two of her family members, her grandfather and her Aunt Lupe, bring her closer to the world of adults. She begins to closely watch the women in her neighborhood. This second half of The House on Mango Street presents a string of stories about older women in the neighborhood, all of whom are even more stuck in their situations and, quite literally, in their houses, than Esperanza is. Meanwhile, during the beginning of the following school year, Esperanza befriends Sally, a girl her age who is more sexually mature than Lucy or Rachel. Sally, meanwhile, has her own agenda. She uses boys and men as an escape route from her abusive father. Esperanza is not completely comfortable with Sally’s sexual experience, and their friendship results in a crisis when Sally leaves Esperanza alone, and a group of boys sexually assaults Esperanza in her absence.

Esperanza’s traumatic experiences as Sally’s friend, in conjunction with her detailed observations of the older women in her neighborhood, cement her desire to escape Mango Street and to have her own house. When Esperanza finds herself emotionally ready to leave her neighborhood, however, she discovers that she will never fully be able to leave Mango Street behind, and that after she leaves she’ll have to return to help the women she has left. At the end of the year, Esperanza remains on Mango Street, but she has matured extensively. She has a stronger desire to leave and understands that writing will help her put distance between herself and her situation. Though for now writing helps her escape only emotionally, in the future it may help her to escape physically as well. ( )
  bostonwendym | Jul 18, 2016 |
Through a series of short stories, the author captures life in a poorer section of Chicago, IL. The emotions and actions of a pre-teen - early teen aged girl are written so remarkably well that I hated to see the book end.

This is good writing! The life of the character Esperanza Cordero was not always easy, but even the small, every day occurrences are rendered important in the telling. Some stories are sad, others are humorous -- all are crafted excellently.
  Whisper1 | Jun 29, 2016 |
This was done in a series of vignettes. It was okay. Well written, but I think I expected it to be something more. Not a bad collection of stories, but i don't know if I'll ever read it again. ( )
  PriPri77 | Jun 23, 2016 |
Mother/daughter book club selection ( )
  euroclewis | Jun 8, 2016 |
Read years ago when I was in college getting my BS in Elementary Education. What an eye-opener for this middle-America middle-class young white woman! Lovely & intense as I recall.

Reread Jan. 2013. Not sure which edition to choose, as mine was not the 25h anniversary edition which logo shows on all these. Only mentioning that because there may be additional content (in the anniversary edition) that I did not see.

It is as magical as I remembered. So refreshing to read prose that reads like poetry, as lately it's been a fashion to write YA in verse form, even when the author isn't a poet. That is to say, breaking prose into lines of similar length so it looks like a poem doesn't do it. Cisneros knows this, and just writes with metaphor and melody and authenticity, so the book is poetic without being overtly so.

I like that these vignettes reveal lots of different characters and kinds of events - it's not just about one girl, but about the whole community and even, it could be argued, a large part of the Hispanic immigrant experience. I do see a resemblance to my current immigrant neighbors here in CC NV - especially, unfortunately, the sexism, the precocious girls replacing the trap of their fathers' houses for the trap of their husbands'. But it's not actually a sad book, because we know that the strongest children will find a way up and out:

Four skinny trees with skinny necks and pointy elbows like mine. Four who do not belong here but are here.... Their strength is secret. They send ferocious roots beneath the ground. They grow up and they grow down and grab the earth between their hairy toes and bite the sky with violent teeth and never quit their anger."

"A House of My Own. Not a flat. Not an apartment in back. Not a man's house. Not a daddy's.... Only a house quiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem."

I think it's much like [a:Julia Alvarez|7277|Julia Alvarez|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1220651344p2/7277.jpg]'s [b:The Woman I Kept to Myself|83972|The Woman I Kept to Myself|Julia Alvarez|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1171047987s/83972.jpg|81069]

Btw. the rape scene only mentions forcible kissing. If a reader is sophisticated enough to realize that it's actual rape that is being referred to, that reader can handle it." ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
A las Mujeres
(To the Women)
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We didn't alway live on Mango Street.
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
[R.L. 4.5]
Told in a series of vibrant vignettes, this is the story of Esperanza Cordera, a girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago, in a neighborhood that is neither pretty nor easy. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, this is a moving story of a young girl attempting to rise above the hopelessness around her.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679734775, Paperback)

Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.

Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:08 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

For Esperanza, a young girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago, life is an endless landscape of concrete and run-down tenements, and she tries to rise above the hopelessness.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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