Friday, February 7, 2020

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

4 Stars

After alllllllllllllllllllllllllll the backlash regarding the release of American Dirt, I stumbled upon this list and pretty much decided . . . . .

I weeded out the poetry because . . . .

As well as most of the nonfiction (for now at least – I’m not a huge nonfiction reader to begin with and if I am supposed to be comparing apples to apples than I needed something with a similar plot to American Dirt) and went to the library website to see what selections were available. I grabbed several (I’ll get around to reviewing them eventually) and then I saw an article where Sandra Cisneros (a Mexican author) offered her support to Jeanine Cummins’ release and explained her reasons for doing so with grace and eloquence which made The House on Mango Street get bumped to the forefront.

I should have read this book eons ago not only because it is considered a coming-of-age modern classic, or because it was an American Book Award winner, but also because of its perpetual status as a Banned and/or Challenged Book. (The House on Mango Street (along with others by Latino authors) was actually banned from ethnic studies classes by the Arizona legislature in 2012). Those are all lists that I pay attention to and since I read a couple hundred books per year I always just figured I’d get around to it. Until the big blow up last month I will fully admit that I paid little to no attention to who penned a particular story. I can’t see that changing either, because as a reader/reviewer I have pretty much have zero interest in the who/why/when/where/how behind a fictional story – I simply want a good story. Writers should write and if it’s good the people will read it. And it may not be fair for one person to get nearly a million dollars for a book while another (Cisneros) makes practically nothing for ten years after her book is released, that’s a whoooooooooooooooole different issue than “who is allowed to tell a story.”

So now that you have all that unnecessary information, let me tell you this book is freaking phenomenal. At little more than 100 pages, Cisneros packs not only her personal story, but also that of a neighborhood and an entire culture into what I saw someone call a “story collage” – vignettes of a few pages each that truly leave their mark. Her prose is lyrical; her messages regarding race and socioeconomic status and gender roles punch you in the face with feeling and authenticity. At over 25-years old The House on Mango Street reads like it could have been written yesterday. This absolutely should remain a required read for students and I am thrilled to see that it is being adapted into a television show. As Cisneros herself says . . . .

You must remember to come back. For the ones who cannot leave as easily as you.

This book ensures that no one will forget where she came from.

And since I spend about half my life complaining about ugly covers, can I just take a minute to give a major shout-out to Alejandro Romero’s artwork??????

Holy crap that’s beautiful.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I had to read it in school and really didn't remember it as an adult, picked it up again, and can easily appreciate it! I will come back and see what you think of the others on the list!