The House on Mango Street

Common Sense Media says

A poetic -- and classic -- coming-of-age story.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

This is a book that is often used in the classroom setting.  Random House provides a list of questions for parents or teachers who want to dive into specific vignettes.

Positive messages

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."

Positive role models

Readers will root for the smart, gifted narrator who is determined to "say goodbye" to her impoverished Latino neighborhood.

Violence

Child abuse and a rape.

Sex

Men and boys force young girls to kiss them. A man hires prostitutes. Esperanza talks about her awakening sexuality.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One mother smokes a cigarette, references to drinking.

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?

QUALITY
 

Esperanza Cordero 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. In these short, poetic installments, Sandra Cisneros captures the sadness and desperation Esperanza sees among her neighbors, especially the women, the confusion that comes with growing up -- and the beauty in small moments, like riding a bike with friends.

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."

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Author:Sandra Cisneros
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Vintage Books
Publication date:April 9, 1991
Number of pages:128
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Read aloud:13
Read alone:13

This review of The House on Mango Street was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written byWorldCommunismM... January 5, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Terrible book, don't expect to take anything out of it

This book is a disgrace to educational books. It is a terrible book, that looks as if it was written by a 7 year old. Its vignettes are totally unrelated to each other, and they have no value in them. No message to take out. It doesn't even leave you with anything to try and analyze it. At a random point in the story, three clairvoyants come to her neighborhood and tell her what's going to happen with her life, what is the message there? That Divination is real? I had to read this book in my Multicultural Literature class, and I have to say, it's the ONLY book that I've EVER read that I dislike. Even the questions the teacher asked about it only related to things that happened, not the theme, considering there isn't one. It's just overall a terrible book, that people could read in their free time, but should not be given to kids in school to read, and analyze. It's a waste of the limited time our foolish education system gives us.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 16 years old Written by1PS2PI September 15, 2009
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Reality's problems are harsh, but it's not selling off sex or anything.

It DOES have struggles of sexual and stress probelms in life, but in the end it's very inspirational and overcoming of trials to reach a gial or dream, and it's a fun style to read, like a girl writing a journal. Very poetic in some chapters and altho the issues are cruel and sexual, it's just a girl trying to survive. It's not like the character is asking for it or anything, so it's not teaching girls to act all... well you know the word.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Educational value
Great messages
Adult Written byBroken and Bleeding November 11, 2009
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
i am i high school student in texas and i am reading this novel, and frankly i am not in the least bit impressed with it. its a story that has no connection between vignettes and is no more than a collaberation of random short stories. in my oppinion a sixth grader could have written this book.

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