Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Should have read in high school: The House on Mango Street

Book: 3/50
Author: Sandra Cisneros

Here is the awful story of why I didn't read this in high school. My high school did a play version of this and when I was told that I would not be cast in this play because I was not Latina (a COMPLETELY legitimate reason but I was a teenage asshole) I put the book aside and never picked it up again. Which means I spent the next 13 (barf) years of my life missing this absolutely gorgeous dream of a book. 31 year old me is SO annoyed with 18 year old me. That guy is a dick.

Thankfully, I rediscovered this book by way of viewing an art exhibit at the Mexican Museum of Art in Chicago which is dedicated to artists reimagining scenes from Mango Street. Sidenote: MMA is my favorite museum in Chicago, if you live here and get a chance, I highly recommend it. Then walk through the park and head east and you will find several amazing Pilsen restaurants and shops.

If you have not read this book, it is a series of small vignettes (very small, sometimes only 1 page) that follows the train of thought of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood (as Cisneros did). Her language is so precise, so image heavy I felt like my imagination was on overdrive. It has everything lush and colorful like other Latin writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez but it's much more like poetry. It's also mostly about the women and girls in her life and the small and huge injustices they face in that culture and in that class. I found myself physically angry at the unfairness of their lives sometimes. But she doesn't dwell in darkness. The book is a moment in time and gave me so much to dream about.

Would extremely recommend to anyone--double bonus it's tiny. I read it twice in a day.

Favorite passage: "Hips: One day you wake up and they are there. Ready and waiting like a new Buick with the keys in the ignition. Ready to take you where?...They bloom like roses..."


  1. I love this book so much! I remember the experience of reading it feeling like the most detailed, delicate mosaic made out of gorgeous and unexpected materials. I loved stepping back and seeing all of it as a whole big picture, and I loved putting my nose right up next to it and running my finger along every piece.

    1. Mosaic is an amazing analogy--all the little pieces are so beautiful in their colors and textures but the total effect is breathtaking. You are so right!