Monday, October 5, 2009
Book Review: The House on Mango Street
I've had The House on Mango Street on my TBR list for a long time, and I'm so glad I finally read it. This is a story told in a series of simple but eloquent vignettes about the life of Esperanza, a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago.
I love the concept. The short vignettes to me represent both the snapshots we have as adults looking back on our childhoods, and the snapshot feel of living in that time. I can remember that feeling as life as vignette even as a child reflecting on childhood. Cisneros captures that so well.
And while the chapters are short and the language is simple, so much is going on beneath that surface: themes of poverty, racial discrimination, power, abuse, education, dreams, coming of age. Cisneros chooses her words carefully for a powerful impact.
It's not my favorite coming-of-age novel by any means. I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Separate Peace, though both of those novels show utterly different worlds. What I love so much about both of those novels is the story itself. The House on Mango Street is presented in an entirely different way, and while I enjoyed it, I prefer a novel with which I can linger and savor for more than an hour.
But don't skip The House on Mango Street. It's a quick read and a powerful one.