Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros


There's a line in here about linoleum roses and ceilings that look like wedding cakes that has stayed with me for over ten years. I had to read this book in high school and for a long time, I didn't like it because the teacher who taught it to me was a total asshole and he imposed his own white man world view over it. To give you an idea of what this man was like, he would make jokes about AIDS and regale us with stories of public urination from his own adolescence (because #PeePranks) and his favorite author was John Steinbeck and he once told us that Jane Austen was an insipid romance novelist and not "real literature." Such was the man who taught us this delicate story about a Mexican-American girl's coming of age.

So, you know, obviously he treated it with respect and care.

I haven't quite gotten over my hatred of John Steinbeck because of this man and suspect it might last me a lifetime, but having just reread and loved SPEAK, I thought it would be nice to give HOUSE ON MANGO STREET another try because I remembered them sharing similar themes. And to my surprise and delight, I ended up loving this book much, much more when reading it and discovering it for myself at my own pace with my own interpretations. It's a beautiful story about a girl living in the poor part of Chicago and trying to find her own interpretation of the American dream.

This weighty book tackles all sorts of subjects: racism, classism, family, found family, abuse, gender roles, sexual assault, the immigrant experience, poverty, and feminism. I loved Esperanza's narrative voice. It's told in a sort of stream of consciousness style and mostly it sounds just like you would expect a very young girl to write, but there's all these beautiful turns of phrase that make it sound like poetry. So in that sense, I guess it's like the nostalgic way that you think you talked as a young adult, but with the poetic adult filter imposed over it. It's very short and easy to read, so if you haven't read this book, I definitely recommend it. It's often sad but it's not without hope and the ending is wonderful.

4 out of 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.