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House on Mango Street
My Rating: 5 out of 5  

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"People who live on hills sleep so close to the stars they forget those of us who live too much on earth." 

Esperanza Cordero would like to live in one of those nice houses on the hills, not in her shabby red house on Mango Street. "One day," her parents say, "when we win the lottery." Growing up poor in Chicago, the Mexican-American teenager observes the strange, magical and terrible aspects of her community. Through a series of vignettes, Esperanza invites the reader into her world as she grapples with feelings of shame about where she comes from and decides what type of woman she wants to grow into.

I loved every chapter of Cisneros' beautiful and poetic words. She has the ability to paint a rich picture of life on Mango Street and creates such full characters using very sparse text. Each chapter consists of a vignette that spans only a page or two, yet the stories are so poignant and captivating that it feels as though I've just lived through several years of Esperanza's vivid, colorful memories. The House on Mango Street is very short, only 100 pages or so, but that is more than enough for Esperanza, her family and her neighbors to come alive in your mind.

Some readers might be put off that there's really no distinctive story plot and the book ends somewhat abruptly. It feels more like reading a diary. At first you can't tell exactly how the vignettes go together, but the more you read you see how Esperanza's family, friends, and neighbors influence her perspective and shape her goals for her future. The book is a small but worthy read that explores a community not often featured in literary fiction. I highly recommend it!

#1 - The Assistants by Camille Perri
#2 - Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax
#3 - The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

NEXT BOOK: #4 - Iron Cast by Destiny Soria