the house on mango street by s cisneros

photo What literary treasure!  Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street is a sparkling gem.  It’s unique; the vignettes that make up the entire book are neither poetry nor prose, but is a string of independent thoughts bundled as a whole.  It’s about a young Latina, Esperanza, counting down the days to ditch the suffocating neighborhood she grew up in for greener pastures.  Her mind is set on leaving but she consoles her selfish desperation by noting that she will always come back for her beloved family.

I don’t think I would’ve liked it if I hadn’t read Cisneros’ foreword.  Her voice is very personal, and extremely sentimental.  And House is the fictional culmination of Cisneros’ experiences and thoughts, interpretations and perspectives on the details of dreams, hopes, and plans.  She eloquently transfers complicated thoughts and ambitious desires into simple forms.  The entire time I was reading House, my mind kept referencing the song “que sera sera” (“whatever will be, will be”).  The characters in the book didn’t seem too aggressive; nobody pushed their luck or worries — everybody kept moving along as if change was rare.  I guess that can be both comforting and frustrating.

We constantly make plans that subtly projects an improvement of life — “move into a bigger house”, “make more money”, “have more vacation days”, etc.  We are so caught up with the whirlwind of what we don’t have, that we forget to dream.  It’s quite surprising the number of people who don’t have dreams today.  It’s as if many think that dreams are supposed to be grandiose otherwise it’ll be judged as improper.  But a dream is the one thing in life that is solely owned by us.  Nobody can ever take it away from us.  And Esperanza reminds me that regardless of how reality may contribute to reaching this dream, we should always, always carry one with us.  It can be as modest as her’s: to move out of her old house on Mango St.

Overall, The House on Mango Street was an easy, simple, and emotional read.  It is a tiny reminder to stop and reflect on what dreams, hopes, and plans you carry everyday.   I urge you to pick up the edition with the author’s foreword.

dee’s recommendation: 4.5/5