Review: The House on Mango Street

the house on mango street sandra cisneros

The House on Mango Street centers on Esperanza Cordero, a 12-year old Mexican-American girl who lives in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago. It narrates a one-year time span in the life of Esperanza, starting when she and her family move to a house located in Mango Street.

It’s a coming of age story where we witness how Esperanza matures during that year and begins to face the realities surrounding her community. At first, her perspective is innocent and she doesn’t fully comprehend the things she’s describing. Towards the end, she’s changed, no longer a girl but a teenager. Her deepest desire is to move away from Mango Street into a “real home” and begins to write as a medium of escape and self-expression.

Some of the themes covered are male chauvinism, social class, sexual harassment, and racism. However, I still do not see why this novel would get banned from being taught at schools, it is not explicit at all. Some of the events described were harsh, but these things do happen — even after 37 years (date when it was first published).

My main critique is that it did not feel like a novel, hence the rating that I’m giving it. Since it’s written in vignettes, it felt more like a collection of short stories. There’s isn’t much plot development and characters come and go without previous notice. All we see is Esperanza’s point of view on certain occurrences, but there isn’t much depth.

As a Latina who grew up in a south-Florida neighborhood densely populated by other fellow Latinos, some of the stories resonated with experiences of my own or people I know. Whether good or bad, it described events that are not far-fetched from reality.

My favorite vignettes were: Marin, Alice who sees mice, Darius and the clouds, Four skinny trees and Bums in the attic.

I enjoyed it overall, some vignettes were witty and entertaining. It’s been such a long time since I’ve read a coming of age story that contained elements from Hispanic culture. Which has made me realize how I should diversify my reads more, so if you have any recommendations on novels written by lantinx authors, please let me know!

Rating: 3.5 / 5

“I want to be like the waves on the sea, like the clouds in the wind, but I’m me. One day I’ll jump out of my skin. I’ll shake the sky like a hundred violins.”

Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street