Christina Taylor's Reviews > The House on Mango Street

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
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Aug 03, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: childrens

The House on Mango Street is a fictional account of the coming-of-age of Esperanza Cordero which is loosely based on Cisneros’ own childhood in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago. According to Cisneros in an interview that appeared in the Holt, Rinehart, and Winston’s textbook Elements of Literature, “all my fiction stories are based on nonfiction, but I add and cut and paste and change the details to make them ‘more real’—to make the story more interesting.... I’m doing what every good fiction writer does. I’m taking ‘real’ people and ‘real’ events and rearranging them so as to create a better story, because ‘real’ life doesn’t have shape. But real stories do.” Reminiscent of Gloria Naylor’s Women of Brewster Place (1982), the first person point of view of this “real story” encourages the audience to intimately connect with the vignettes that have been stitched together to depict Esperanza’s burgeoning maturation in the autumn of her childhood. This woman-child toggles between being a naive narrator in regard to sexuality and being intuitive and wise beyond her years as she leads her audience through a lyrical narrative that poignantly addresses many hard realities of life such as poverty and ghettoization, shame, domestic violence, sexual assault, classicism, rigid gender roles, and racism. Nonetheless, Esperanza is able to surmount her oppressive surroundings and draw on the wisdom of Virginia Woolf in order to create for herself “a house all [her] own,” staving off hopelessness.
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