The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is a story told through the voice of Esperanza, a young Hispanic girl. We hear, in just 110 pages, the incredible beauty and sad starkness of her life. We meet her neighbors in short, amazing vignettes and begin to see hints of Esperanza’s future in these pictures of her everyday life.
This book is a gift to those who love words, a picture post card of life in full color. The author's descriptions demand that we read them aloud to someone, to anyone who will listen, just so we can hear them again. Only here can one see four trees “grab the earth between their hairy toes and bite the sky with violent teeth and never quit their anger.”
We meet Esperanza's sister, Nenny, who is “too young to be my friend. She’s just my sister and that was not my fault. You don’t pick your sisters, you just get them and sometimes they come like Nenny.”
There is a rhythm in this book that borders on poetry, so subtle that one doesn’t even realize it’s there. When it begins to prick the subconscious, one must read the passage again and again, must listen for the simplicity and beauty.
But waiting just within and beyond the beauty and rhythm of these words is Esperanza’s future. She sees the traps being set for her, longs for a house of her own, a house not owned by a man, not even by her father. Not the house where she grew up, which is “small and red with tight steps in front and windows so small you’d think they were holding their breath.” She knows she will leave Mango Street someday, tells stories inside her head of what her life will be when she has “a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem.”