The House on Mango Street is a very short work of fiction, just a little over 100 pages. But it's one of the most satisfying 100 pages that I've ever read. The novel basically describes the hardships that the Cordero family endures as immigrants to the US, all told through the voice of Esperanza. Because Cisneros is a poet, the words in the novel flow beautifully. Cisneros's writing style, as she describes the coming of age of Esperanza, is lyrical.
In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.Seldom does a novel evoke so many feelings in me as this one. Esperanza's story, told in vignettes that run for an average of 2 pages each, is sad, funny, life affirming, and brutal in equal doses. I found myself angry after reading Esperanza's sexual violation. I laughed at all the hysterical episodes in her childhood.
Ultimately, The House on Mango Street is anything but hopeful. In the Cordero's house in Mango Street, where the residents are subjected to racism and so many disheartening experiences, one can only survive by realizing that he can rise above it all.
Read this book if:
- You like coming-of-age fiction.
- You love a touch of poetry in your novels.
- Your parents are immigrants themselves.