Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Published: 1984
Pages: 110
Genre: YA fiction
Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and beauty. Esperanza doesn't want to belong - not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperenza's story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become. (from back of book)
I guess you could say that I had relatively high hopes for this book. The summary lead me to believe that I'd gain a lot from reading it - empathy, understanding, appreciation, and strength. But, I didn't. I'm sure The House on Mango Street has many underlying themes and messages that a more critical and analytical reader could discover, but none of them came across for me!

Cisneros is talented writer, that's for sure. She also writes poetry, so some of that smoothness and richness was there. I liked the innocence of the narrator, and I liked seeing the world from her eyes. Despite all that, the book just didn't make logical sense to me. The "chapters" were short, fragmented, random, and didn't merge to create one single plot. Rather, they felt like their own separate short stories that had no relevance to each other in the least. And, to top it all off, none of the characters stood out. I found it difficult to distinguish them from each other.

Maybe the book's brevity ruined it for me. Maybe I didn't take it seriously enough. Maybe I even read too fast for my own good. No matter what, though, The House on Mango Street will not go down in history for me. It was a semi-positive, semi-uplifting story about a young girl who decides to leave her old life behind - that's pretty much the gist of it. Sandra Cisneros is a good author herself, but I don't think this book showcased her full potential.

Recommendation: Because you can theoretically read this book in just over an hour, give it a try if you see it anywhere. You might end up appreciating it more than I did, so I don't want to discourage you from reading it.


Melissa said...

hmmmm great review, but I'm just not sure it's for me :)

Bookscount Bolgs said...

I've seen this book on the shelves many times and wanted to know whether it was worth it so I was glad to see your review. I like the idea of chapters that are their own stories but I also need them to develop into some wholeness at the end.

Thanks for posting this, maybe I will skp this one.


Nymeth said...

Aw, sorry to hear you were let down. I've actually been on the look out for short books, so I'll keep this in mind.

Jan von Harz said...

I have not read this book but have read critics that hail it as a break out book. Sorry you were disappointed in it.

Emidy said...

Melissa - Thank you! You should try it, though. You might like it.

Gina - Exactly. At the end, I wish it felt like the whole story came together!

Nymeth - If you see this book somewhere, you should pick it up. It's definitely short, and you might enjoy it!

Jan - I've heard that, too! I'm really surprised. But, maybe there's something I'm just not understanding about The House on Mango Street.

Elle said...

Oh no, this is just another mediocre book - but I'm glad you admitted it. Well, at least it's short. Still, I don't think I'll be reading it. Great review, thanks for the heads up! :)

GMR said...

Wow...too bad it didn't make a positive impact on you there, but love the way that you incorporate some of the high points in your review anyway. Great job! This one keeps making the rounds on school reading lists in our area, always wondered what all the hub-bub was about....not too certain I missed anything, but you know I just might pick it up for a quick read on a break one day for a looksie myself. Thanks for sharing...and happy reading!