The House on Mango Street

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
The House on Mango Street Book Poster Image
A poetic -- and classic -- coming-of-age story.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 76 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One mother smokes a cigarette, references to drinking.

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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written by30826 February 19, 2019

Bad writing, confusing, and too short

The house on mango street is a terrible book, with a confusing writing style, a blank slate of a character, and things that happen for no reason, the house on m... Continue reading
Adult Written byEndmaSuphering January 2, 2019

It's a Book

The House on Mango Street is not a story about a house on a literal mango street. So if that was what you wanted, don't read it. The book is actually about... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byedwardsmacerana April 11, 2017

An entirely too short "novel" with poor writing, poor structure, and terrible characterization

My seventh grade class was assigned to read this "novel" by Sandra Cisneros last year, as a part of our month-long unit on poetry.
I would not call th... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byA avid book reader September 18, 2019

WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU READ THIS BOOK

not only is this book poorly written, conuseing, and short. it gives a horrible message about men. there is not a single good thing written about men in this wh... Continue reading

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?

Book details

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