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The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (BOOK REVIEW) 4/5

The House on Mango Street is a short, inspiring read, containing chapter-length shorts from the point of view of a young Hispanic girl who has always wanted her own house. It speaks deeply on poverty, on what it’s like for a child to be raised in temporary situations and then finally have a home- but become witness to so many darker aspects of life. I knew that this would be an interesting read the second I picked up the book- which I did after attending an author discussion with Miss Cisneros herself. Profoundly, she spoke on the career life of being a woman, the decision to make her students her children rather than have children herself, and on her desire- no, her need- to write. I found that I really connected to the author, making me want to buy her book.

It’s actually what feels like a mix of fiction and poetry at the same time. While it is written as fiction, I found that reading it aloud had a rhythm to it, a poetry and a dance to the words, to the point I almost preferred it that way. The writing, though simple, was lyrical and well written.

This is a story about poverty more than any other. The descriptions of the rundown neighborhood, of the people who lived there, were right on the nose. In fact, the book got intensely dark at times, with many hints of prostitution, grand theft auto, and other depravities as seen through the eyes of little girl main character, Esperanza. It also spoke greatly about culture- about her shame of her name, about being treated differently, and about what her parents and grandparents were like and what they went through. Little snippets of life, that’s what this book held.

There’s not much to say for it, as it is a book I would say is best read yourself. The reason I gave it a four star, however, is because I don’t think each and every story chapter hit as well as the rest. Towards the end, a good number of the stories became a bit less enjoyable, harder to focus on, more simplified in message. I had favorites, and I had a few that just weren’t as strong. I also believe that, at times, the message was so subtle that it needed a deeper analysis of it, and I think this is a book that not everyone would enjoy. It truly depends on the reader, and I would be careful who I recommended it to. For that reason, my score came down a bit.

I do love this book as an obscure poetic fiction, and I think there are some great messages and great representations here, for the right person.

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