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The House on Mango Street
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this coming-of-age novel features gritty material including child abuse, a rape, and men who treat their wives like prisoners. However, it also features a smart, gifted narrator who is determined to "say goodbye" to her impoverished Latino neighborhood. This is a book that is often used in the classroom setting, and parents and teachers can use it to open up a variety of discussions.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In lyrical language, a young girl discusses growing up in a poor, Latino neighborhood. She tells her story in short vignettes, describing her friends, her family, her neighbors, and her dream to have a \"house all my own... Only a house quiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem.\"
Is it any good?
In these short, poetic installments, Sandra Cisneros captures the sadness and desperation Esperanza sees among her neighbors, especially the women. There's also the confusion that comes with growing up, and the beauty in small moments, like riding a bike with friends. Esperanza writes about her house on Mango Street with "windows so small you'd think they were holding their breath;" her mother, who quit school and pushes her to continue her education; and her friend Sally, who gets married too young to escape her house, and ends up a virtual prisoner to her husband.
Readers may not be able to relate exactly to Esperanza's world -- which includes one room for the whole family to sleep in, men who prey on young girls, and husbands and fathers who mistreat their children -- but they will understand her quest for a better life, and the importance of her promise to come back for "the ones I left behind."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the writing style here. The book is written in vignettes; is this an effective way to tell a story? How would the book have been different if it had been a more straightforward novel?
This book was first published in 1984. Why do you think it has had such a lasting appeal? Do you think it is still as relevant as it was when it was published?