The House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros

Paperback, 1991




Vintage (1991), 110 pages


Classic Literature. Fiction. Literature. HTML: NATIONAL BESTSELLER � A coming-of-age classic, acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught in schools and universities alike, and translated around the world�from the winner of the 2019 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes-sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous-Sandra Cisneros' masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers. �Cisneros draws on her rich [Latino] heritage ... and seduces with precise, spare prose, creat[ing] unforgettable characters we want to lift off the page. She is not only a gifted writer, but an absolutely essential one.� �The New York Times Book Review.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member mrstreme
Little books can pack a big punch, and that's certainly the case for pint-sized The House on Mango Street. Easily read in one sitting, this book is a coming-of-age tale about a young girl growing up in a poor Latino neighborhood in Chicago. Esperanza Cordero, whose first name translates to "hope,"
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is the narrator of this book, and through her eyes, you see the joy and sadness of living on Mango Street.

Esperanza at a young age sees more than most adults see in their lifetimes. What is endearing about her narrative is the sense of hope she feels about leaving her childhood behind - to move away from Mango Street and do "something" with her life. In the end, though, she realizes that her experiences are part of her, and she'll never, completely, leave it behind. It's how you learn and grow from these circumstances that shape you as a person.

How I missed this book before is a mystery, but I am glad I stumbled upon it. It's a great book for all ages, especially young adults, who may find Esperanza's journey inspirational and relevant to their lives.
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LibraryThing member riofriotex
This was a 10-year anniversary edition with an introduction by Cisneros. In it, she said she had originally intended to write a memoir, but by the end, it was "no longer autobiographical. It had evolved into a collective story peopled with several lives from my past and present, placed in one
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fictional time and neighborhood - Mango Street." She said she was "trying to write something that was a cross between fiction and poetry...a book whose stories read like fables, but with the lyricism and succinctness of poetry."

I think she succeeded. The book consists of 45 essays or short stories, none more than six pages long. Cisneros said she "wanted to tell a story made up of a series of stories that would make sense if read alone, or that could be read all together to tell one big story, each story contributing to the whole, like beads on a necklace," and that is the case.

The narrator and main character is Esperanza Cordero, who may or may not be Cisneros by her own admission. She says her intention was "to take from different parts of other people's lives and create a story like a collage. I merged characters from my twenties with characters from my teens and childhood." Cisneros reads this book with a voice that sounds like that of a little girl, and it fits the material. Some of the stories are light and funny, some sad and serious. Cisneros also said:

"But best of all, writing in a younger voice allowed me to name that thing without a name, that shame of being poor, of being female, of being not quite good enough, and examine where it had come from and why, so I could exchange shame for celebration"

This definitely comes across in this book. I'm glad I listened to it.
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LibraryThing member CBJames
I've a feeling I may take some heat for this review.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is a collection of scenes from a year in the life of Esperanza Cordera, a girl entering her teenage years in a tough Chicago neighborhood. A plotless collection of scenes praised throughout the world
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for its poetic language, The House on Mango Street paints a portrait of one family and the block where they live. Ms. Cisneros does a good job, too. By the end of the book, the reader has met and come to better understand a wide range of people. But I don't see what all the fuss was about.

There was a lot of fuss about The House on Mango Street when it first came out in 1984. In no time at all the book was in widespread circulation, used in colleges, high schools, even middle and elementary schools. I found my copy on the high shelf of the book room at school. It's a good book overall. It presents a point of view that was not exactly easy to find in print in 1984. And it's short. It should really be considered a novella at 110 pages, half of them white space. Most of the chapters are less than two pages in length; perfect for literature anthologies. The section called "Bums in the Attic" is in the one my school uses.

I think the shortness of the chapters worked against my reading of the book. So many quick sketches in sequence, a brief scene in one, a character outlined in another, made me begin to question why the author hadn't taken the time to flesh out a genuine plot, even a slice of life plot. Frankly, it began to feel a bit self-indulgent by the end. There really should be more there there.

As for the poetry of the writing which was often discussed back in 1984, I guess so, but I wasn't all that impressed. I felt like I was reading the memoirs of an intelligent young woman writing about people she loved. It's nice that she took the time to share her family with us, but the book did not rise to the level of classic I was led to expect.

Towards the end of the novel some of the women on the block tell Esperanza that she'll always be a part of Mango Street and Mango Street will always be a part of her. I suppose I should read this as a statement about the larger experience of growing up in Chicago's Latino neighborhoods, but even with that in mind I just couldn't buy it. Her family spent just a year on Mango Street. You need to spend more time than that in a place before it becomes a part of you, especially at that age. There just wasn't enough in the book for me to believe that Mango Street could be that meaningful after one year. There will be other streets, other towns, other people. Other books, too. That I felt the author agreed with the women who made this claim just made me suspicious of her. Mango Street? Why is Mango Street so important?

Sometimes a street is just a good place to be from.
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LibraryThing member paperclips
This was a nice change of pace, and a great read during breakfast. I sat down to read a few pages, and then finished the whole thing! (It is a short, but powerful, 110 pages)

The story is actually a series of short stories all narrated by Esperanza (whose name means hope in Spanish) she talks about
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how her life is, and how she would like it to be. While there are few time markers in the story, other than it seems like she is in 8th grade from one of the stories, it does a great job capturing the fleeting and timeless aspects of the bridge between being a child and an adult. This should be put on the book shelf along with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
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LibraryThing member andreablythe
Young Esperanza shares her life as she grew up on Mango Street, sharing stories of her family and neighbors around her in a series short vignettes. There's no straightforward, chronological storyline, rather the novel is formed as a series of snapshots from a child's memories. Some are sweet and
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funny, others are sad, but an overall portrait of the street can be discovered by the time the story is done. And while there is no coherent overarching storyline, there is the thread of Esperanza's point of view and personal growth that holds the vignette's together. The 25th anniversary edition also has the bonus of an introduction by Cisneros, which tells how she came to write Mango Street and how she managed to eek out a personal space for herself, despite her Hispanic parents and heritage that tends to be protective of its women. The introduction, too, is written in the clean and sparse, and poetic style that offers an easy an enjoyable read.
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LibraryThing member wy3188565
Have you ever noticed the little things around you?Maybe most people's anewer is no.However,from this book,the girl named Esperanza Cordero describled the mermories and experience of her life by observing the surroundings carefully.This book gives me a derrerent kand of feel about life.When you are
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busy for your study or work,you may feel tired or boring for your life,and have no time to notice the little things arround you.But in fact,many little things make your life become interesting and funny.Life is like a song,consites of different notes , syllable.The little things in your life is the nots and syllable of your own life's song.I have learned a importent lesson from this book:the happiness is from bits and pieces of life.
So lucky i found this book,i hope every one can read this book and find interesting things later.
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LibraryThing member baachan
Cisneros describe events in the life of Esperanza, a Latina girl growing up in Chicago. Some of the episodes deal with families, other stories handle friendships, school, popularity, fashion, and a host of other issues that touch the lives of adolescent and teenage girls. The narrative is given in
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vignettes, and while that doesn't give the reader the sensation of completeness, it does allow for a prettier, more artistic presentation of events in the piece. Cisneros may be the author of the story, but readers will forget that she's channeling these characters for us. The language is engaging and believable and consistent--Cisneros never lets her own voice overtake that of her narrator. Recommended for high school and junior high school libraries, but also for public library teen collections, if it isn't already a part of the collection.
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LibraryThing member bookwyrmm
A collection of poetic vignettes that have a nostalgic feel.
LibraryThing member shamille
A book we had to read for school. This book is SOOOO great. It's got to be one of my favorite books and also on the list of my favorite school-required books.

Anyway this book is a collection of little narrations that Mr. Humanities calls Vignettes. It's about Esperanza, a girl who grows up in a
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barrio in Chicago. She doesn't want to belong there because she doesn't want to be restricted just because she is a woman and because she's Latina. She wants to escape her little house on Mango Street, but she is destined to leave and return to her roots.

The story has a lot of symbols and motifs. Like names, windows... etc. All the women always hang out of windows because their dads or husbands don't let them leave the house (because they are male chauvanist pendejos) and that's their only way to communicate with the outside world. Esperanza doesn't want to be like them, so she tries to ignore all boys and be independent but she's growing up and starts liking boys so she has a little trouble with that. um... anyway.

This book is has a great style of writing and it has classicaly powerful themes in it like gender roles and self-identity and determination. And it'll take you like a day to read it. So you'd better.
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LibraryThing member GlebtheDancer
One of those books that I couldn't quite get a handle on. It is written from a girl's perspective, and uses child-like language to deal with some occasionally complex coming of age issues. It read and felt like a children's book, but would, I think, be beyond many young adult readers. However, it
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also felt too frivolous and shallow to really be a book aimed at adults. I picked it up, read it quickly and put it down completely bemused by what i had just read, and with no idea who should be reading this book.
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LibraryThing member dordahsa
Sandra Cisneros' "House on Mango Street" is a modern product that was created specifically for the integration of multi-cultural and Hispanic literature into the classrooms. Written from the viewpoint of Esperanza, readers get a candid peek into the life of a young Hispanic girl living in the
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Barrio. The prose throughout mimics Esperanza's maturity as well as her age. Even as a young girl, she longs for her dream of a better life outside of her house on Mango Street, where she feels trapped in a perpetual cycle of poverty. Rather than join her family and friends in such a cycle, she makes the decision to become something better outside of Mango Street. It is the true story of a refusal to give up who you are and make an active effort to remember where you've come from.

Cisneros' prose is beautiful, lyrical, and fragmented, which holds the key to its poetic sound. Effortless in style, the moments of wanting to belong while simultaniously wanting to get out is sure to touch your heart.
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LibraryThing member cbl_tn
Sometimes less is more. In a series of short sketches, Sandra Cisneros paints a richly detailed account of a year in the life of a young girl. Esperanza and her family dream of a house of their own, but the house they move into on Mango Street isn't the house of Esperanza's dreams. One by one,
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Esperanza tells us a little bit about her friends, acquaintances, and experiences in Mango Street. Her observations are brief, and yet they capture the essence of life in this community -- its hopes, joys, fears, and disappointments. Esperanza would like nothing better than to leave Mango Street for a better place, but she learns that Mango Street will always be a part of her, and she of it. Read it once, and you'll want to come back to it again and again.
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LibraryThing member janemarieprice
A series of vignettes about the life of a young Hispanic girl growing up in Chicago. There are some nice things here, and it was a very quick read. However, I don’t feel like anything really stuck with me. I didn’t learn anything about Chicago or Hispanic culture. It is very good at portraying
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coming of age, but I’ve read other things which I thought were more effective.
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LibraryThing member booksandwine
As a white girl, I do not know anything about the Mexican-American experience. By reading The House on Mango Street, I did not expect to have a complete and total understand of that same experience, but I do feel I gained a glimpse into the life of someone different than me.The House on Mango
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Street is a series of vignettes as told by Esperanza, a young Mexican American girl who is someday going to leave the "ghetto" and have her own house. This isn't a conventional story, it's not the type of book with a plot, it's just brief glimpses into Esperanza's life. Esperanza is Catholic, impoverished, and surrounded by people those in the education community would deem "at-risk." The prose is sparse, but enough to be heartbreaking. For example, "People who live on hills sleep so close o the stars they forget those of us who live too much on earth." I would say that is prime show don't tell.I really liked Cisneros's voice, and if I ever get throught the majority of books on my TBR I will try to get to some of her other writings.
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LibraryThing member Crowyhead
A magical read -- the story, told in vignettes, of a young woman growing up poor in Chicago. Her family has always wanted a house, but the house on Mango Street isn't exactly what they'd had in mind. It's shabby and the neighborhood isn't so great. But gradually Esperanza realizes that even if she
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leaves Mango Street, she will always carry it with her, and that is how it should be. A very quick read, but one that stays with you.
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LibraryThing member cenneidigh
I enjoyed this book, the stories were interesting and the writing was different. Everyone should strive for a better life and in this case it is a necessity. Great characters, a bit like a diary, but not exactly. I would not have wanted to be a child growing up in this neighborhood, you would be
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forced to grow up to fast.
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LibraryThing member edwinbcn
The house on Mango Street is a short novel that seems deceptively easy to read. It strongly evokes Mexican / Puerto-rican Hispanic-American culture. The apparent simplicity of the novel is created by the narrative voice belonging to a young, pretty girl, named Esperanza. She is described as pretty
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and intelligent, attributes that make no real difference in her social situation, or only call for trouble.

The novel describes the way Hispanic women deal with and accept sexual conflict as a part of life. The sexual prowess of men is taken as a fact of life, something the women do not protest or try to understand. Men are men, and women are women.

The men in the book appear and disappear, or abandon. The men are daring, tricking women into kissing or rape them when vulnerable (p. 270). Underage marriage and teenage mother ship runs throughout the book.

The women role is support, and where possible protect each other. Sally's man beats her, and the women dress her bruises (with lard).

The house on Mango Street stands for the reality of Esperanza's life, its dangers but also the familiarity of the cultural setting. Esperanza's dream of another house, are perhaps her longing for greater safety, a different life, although she would find it hard to separate from Hispanic culture.
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LibraryThing member cebellol
There really wasn't a lot to this book. I mean... there wasn't much of a story line, it was more so a collection of painfully short stories about the residents of one area. I can see why a lot of people have to read this for school though. It is filled with the kind of imagery that English
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teachers/professors LOVE to tear apart and over analize. In all honesty, I think that's all this book is really good for because if you don't dig into it and over analize it like that, there's really nothing there. Without tearing it apart in a class, there's nothing but words strung together; there's no real substance to it.
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LibraryThing member porch_reader
Esperanza Cordero is an adolescent girl growing up in a Latino neighborhood in Chicago. With each brief chapter, some no more than a few sentences, we learn a bit about Esperanza, her friends, her neighbors. Alone, these brief chapters are no more than quick snapshots, but together they paint a
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portrait of a girl who is uncomfortable in her situation, who doesn’t want to be a part of this neighborhood.

In some ways, this is a traditional coming-of-age story. But it is the style in which the book is written that makes it unique. Cisneros is a poet. It took me a few chapters to figure out that this book should be read like poetry, slowly, savoring the rhythm, the words, the complexity of the feelings conveyed. I’m searching for the perfect passage to illustrate this. Maybe this one, from near the end of the book, will do:

“We didn’t always live on Mango Street. Before that we lived on Loomis on the third floor, and before that we lived on Keeler. Before Keeler it was Paulina, but what I remember most is Mango Street, sad red house, the house I belong but do not belong to.”

This is a short book filled with feeling. Definitely worth the read.
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LibraryThing member mpultz
The House on Mango Street is the coming of age story of a girl growing into a writer in an impoverished Hispanic neighborhood. Poverty, cruelty, kindness, harsh treatment of women, and neglected children are seen through the eyes of a young girl as she matures, giving the reader a chance to see
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both childish and more adult views about each. Cisneros accurately and poignantly portrays the joys and pains of growing up and her use of language is amazing. She shows how art, specifically writing, can "keep you free" and how women can support and inspire each other in such a society as Esperanza's Hispanic neighborhood. The book also presents a unique realization of the American Dream in the "home" that Esperanza finds in writing. The House on Mango Street is relatively short and very easy to read.
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LibraryThing member Karlus
A collection of isolated anecdotes that do not quite add up to a story, told by a supposedly growing young girl whose voice sounds too much like that of an adult author, produces a largely disengaged and superficial idea of a girl's young life.
LibraryThing member samantha464
This collection of sparse, experimental vignettes paints a gritty portrait of life in a Chicago neighborhood. Beautifully written, but sometimes the simplicity of the stories combined with the magical realist style seem a little forced. Still, an interesting read, a step above typical bus or beach
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reading, but not too difficult.
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LibraryThing member MaowangVater
A childhood in the Hispanic part of Chicago told in a sequence of short prose scenes.
LibraryThing member writestuff
Sandra Cisneros' love of poetry shines through in her novel: The House on Mango Street. Her sparse, beautiful prose conjures up vivid images of life in the Latino section of Chicago. Told from the point of view of Esperanza, a young girl living in the inner city with her family, the novel reveals
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the harsh realities of the city and the innocent beauty of a child's perspective. It is a coming of age story, a story about a young girl who dreams one day of a house of her own "quiet as snow, a place for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem."

A short read that flows easily along and leaves the reader with a sense of hope.

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LibraryThing member ague
Disappointing read. Sort of stream of consciousness and boring. Some nice literary turns of phrase mixed with tepid material.


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