Kid reviews for The House on Mango Street

Common Sense says

A poetic -- and classic -- coming-of-age story.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 86 reviews
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 this a novel - nor would I call it a collection of short stories. It is more a bundle of loose and disjointed thoughts, tied together in no ways that I can see, compiled into a 110 "page" (full pages would likely amount to no more than 60) "novel". For those seeking a lengthier read, or even something with actual substance, I advise you to stay away. By the end of The House on Mango Street, you will likely feel dissatisfied and perhaps even upset, as I did.
In terms of writing - i've seen worse. Mostly in comments on news articles, riddled with references to government conspiracies and hostile alien takeovers. The next step up from that would be fan fiction short stories. The House on Mango Street is only a slight step above the fan fiction. If not for the horrendous content (which I will cover later in this review) I would recommend this book to children aged 9 and up. The comprehension level is that low. Do not expect any spectacular feats of poetry from THOMS, either. In this case "poetry" simply means "something too disconnected and scatterbrained to be considered prose".
In terms of structure - I briefly covered this earlier. Stories ranging between 3 pages and half of a single page, connected in no way, each with their own individual titles and a few recurring characters throughout, are all that THOMS consists of. If you're seeking something that feels like someone with the attention span of a golden retriever wrote it, look no further than this book. Perhaps it's a stylistic choice - but I don't believe that is the case, as the protagonist is meant to be around thirteen to fifteen years old.
Speaking of the protagonist - characterization.
Esperanza, presumed to be the narrator of the vignettes in this novel for most cases, is the only character given any semblance of a personality. That personality amounts to - ~fourteen year old Latina girl living in poverty who is a free, adventurous spirit and doesn't need anyone to control her. Not to spoil the rest of the novel - it's not like slowly trying to piece together things about the MAIN CHARACTER of the book is fun or interesting anyways - but a recurring theme is that Esperanza is bridging the gap between child and adult. I will say that it feels blatantly like an adult trying to write a child and doing a rather poor job. Many of my classmates (and myself as well) believed throughout the first 50 or so pages of the book that Esperanza was around ten years of age. I refuse to believe myself that Cisneros didn't simply forget about Esperanza's age halfway through the novel.
Every other character in the book - the recurring ones (in order of general importance) being Esperanza's mother, father, sister Nenny, and Rachel and Lucy (two other neighborhood kids) does not get much in the way of character development. Perhaps a sentence or two of ambitions, or past life, but nothing much else.
The other "characters" (if you could call one-and-done people characters) are the various neighbors of Esperanza as she lives in the titular house on Mango Street. Some are mildly interesting - a man who brings his mother over to America after working hard for years only to find her homesick, a woman from another nearby family selling Avon just to get by and desperately trying to find a husband to provide for her - are brought up once or twice and never mentioned outside of the occasional allusion. It starts to get a little bland after a while, outside of some of those slightly interesting characters.
Here's where my main problem with the characterization comes in - the portrayal Cisneros writes of men and boys.
I will warn of my bias - I myself am male. Your experience may vary.
The positive, important male character in this novel is Esperanza's father. He is mentioned as hardworking a few times. The other positive (non-character) character is the man providing for his mother I mentioned earlier. He is present for one vignette (around one and a half pages if I remember correctly) and never brought up again.
There is, however, no shortage of absolutely awful male characters.
From my memory - men who look at Esperanza and her friends as they walk down the streets in high heels. A homeless man who offers a dollar to Esperanza's friend Rachel for a kiss. A man who forces his daughter to get up early and clean and cook. A man who beats his wife (a ~17 year old woman who has two kids (fun fact, I did the math using estimates of her age and assuming she didn't have twins, she was pregnant for around 7% of her life)). A man who prevents his wife from leaving one room for fear of her abandoning him. Esperanza's grandmother who was trapped by her grandfather and forced into marriage. A man who beats his daughter near daily. A man (of unspecified age) who marries a woman (who is hinted is a prostitute) and forces her to run his errands lest he beats her. A group of boys who force a girl (the one who's father beats her) to kiss them in exchange for her stolen goods (played off as flirting). A man at Esperanza's workplace (again, mentioned once) who forces her into a "birthday" kiss full on the lips. Finally - a group of boys who hold Esperanza down at a carnival and, it is interpreted, physically rape her.
This book may have some positive messages for young girls about individuality and freedom - at the expense of making the majority of men come off as dangerous rapists who treat women like objects.
Perhaps that really was the case in 1984 when this book was written - but it certainly isn't today.
Myself and my male peers were frustrated at our portrayal, and the discussion-based format this book was taught in made for many awkward silences in the class.
On top of that, the absolute lack of subtlety or delicacy with which this book handles the obviously very sensitive and delicate topic of sexual abuse and harassment is almost sickening to me. I only hope that any survivors of sexual assault never pick up this book. I myself was very uncomfortable even reading the crude way the book describes these events. It was as though the safety or emotions of victims was never even considered - it is a tasteless mess.
I would recommend cutting out this terrible content from the book - however, that also removes about 2/3 of its content. Without it, the book is even emptier. So it remains, and another class somewhere is forced to suffer.
Please, please please please, if you are an adult, do NOT force your children to read this. If you are a teacher, do NOT force your class to read this. If you are another kid wondering if you should give this a try - please heed my warnings and consider if you think this would be right for you. Any forced readings and examinations of this would likely serve only to damage the readers' interest in poetry and perhaps slice of life novels as a whole.
Thank you for reading.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Teen, 16 years old Written byarcadeist April 26, 2015

Quite possibly the worst book I've ever read

I'm being forced to read what I can only suspect of being some sort of ancient torture device in class. The chapters have no coherence and can last a single paragraph before going off into something completely different. I can't remember a single chapter in any great detail, despite having to read multiple chapters over and over again in order to create a vignette that somewhat resembles the authors style and is related to my life.

Send help.
Teen, 13 years old Written byharrypotterismy... September 5, 2019

Deserves all the Hype!

I saw many reviews talking about how inappropriate this book is and how it is "being used to indculcate our boys" but I believe that to be untrue. This book is great for students to read because you must pick up on context clues to understand the depth of this book and it is a window that lets people view a poor neighborhood and understand what it is like to live like that instead of in a well off, priviledged neigborhood. Some people disliked this novel because they don't want to admit how real all of these situations in the book are. This book was amazing and I recommend to to everyone above the age of 13 so they learn more about other cultures and understand hardships of the world.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Teen, 15 years old Written bynanashi December 7, 2020

Thought provoking, but confusing, frustrating, and has triggers that aren't addressed.


~Information about me (just for insight and to compare to yourself)~
For context I'll add my age and gender, I am a 15 year old female in my sophomore year of high school, I'm also an INTJ, so if you know anything about psychology you'll know that I tend to be harsher with criticism, so take that into account while reading my opinions.

~Unspoken about triggers~
I honestly don't think this should be forced on people to read, especially in school. To list some possible triggers there is child death, abuse, and neglect talked about in detail but the author paints these very dark situations into a fantasy aspect that make this some how get a PG-13 rating, and these are only the triggers that involve children and there is many more that I won't discuss in this review. The topics discussed in this novel are very serious and complex, and I find it disgusting that teachers are making children as young as 7th grade (11-13 in the US) read about these, children that young normally don't fully understand these topics and if they do it's normally because they have witnessed the events first hand.

~Book review~
Now onto the actual book, it's so poorly written and almost nothing makes sense unless you make your own timeline or some other way to tie everything together. The book jumps from past, present, and future without much notice and it confuses many people, the characters are easily forgettable or poorly written about with little insight, and the way the topics in this book are mentioned or written about is not only distasteful but extremely disgraceful to the people they affect.

~Character review~
The narrator Esperanza seems like nothing more than a girl who spends her days self loathing and is spiteful because she doesn't have everything she wants handed to her, although she has had a hard life, it's hard to empathize with her because of how much she criticizes and makes fun of people below and above her, and unrightfully so in many cases. She is painted as a sympathetic person who dreams of a better life but when you actually look at her she is a envious and naive child who wants everything but doesn't want to work for it, and her flaws are fatal at best.

~Overall review~
I give it 2 stars. The stories themselves aren't always bad and there are some very lovable characters that deserve praise, but we are subject to only seeing these characters from the bias standpoint of our narrator. The book is thought provoking and makes the reader do some thinking about themselves, personal beliefs, and views on life and people.

~Target audience~
18+ readers who want a raw book with emotions and situations, and are ready to feel emotional and do a lot of self reflection.

I wrote this review when I was on page 91 of the book, but I've now finished it and here are my thoughts.

1) I understand why the book was written the way it was, these stories are ghost that haunt the author and she used these "poems" (diary entries) as a way to relieve the pain that past memories brought her. the book wasn't written to be read like normal books, these stories are her life, and just like her life, the book is raw, seemingly random, yet they are tied to each other even if its by a thousand strings or just one.

2) about my criticism of Esperanza, i would like to say i dislike the character far less, she is human and like many others are judgmental dreamers with trauma and ghost that haunt her. She matured throughout these stories and although its hard to see that at times, by the end i recognized this.

3) I also sympathize with with the characters more, the events in the book made me feel sick to my stomach and brought back awful memories, but I feel a sense of solidarity with these characters because much like Esperanza, I want to get away from my life and save those in similar situations, I think I disliked her so much at first is because i saw parts of myself that aren't favorable

4) the last entry kinda saved the book for me, i felt sympathy for her and it felt like a bit of closure. the unanswered questions are better unanswered in some cases, and the characters don't get a happy ending because that's not how life always works out.

My official rating will stay 1 star because my previous points still stand and i still have many problems with the book, but not all of it is bad and I just wanted to change some things i harshly criticized.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written bycheems September 17, 2020

I really, really despise this book.

I found it to be a mess. The author was trying to sound way too deep and poetic 99% of the time and literally forgot to actually write an engaging story.
Teen, 13 years old Written byRockoSFM June 6, 2020

Maybe the worst book I have ever read.

I understand that this is a vignette. I understand that it is meant to be more descriptive than plot-driven. However, what it fails to do is provide any genuine investment. I found myself bored out of my mind while reading this mess of a story.

The author obviously intended to make the sentences as confusing as possible, whilst claiming it to hold a “deeper meaning.” If you are going to make any sort of story it needs good characters, a good plot, and good lessons. I can’t remember a single character’s name, I can’t tell whether the plot is about a poor family, or how men are all just plain bad, or what. And I can not name a single lesson that hasn’t been explained in other literature for children. If there was, I wouldn’t remember.

The author didn’t know how to write a child. That was clear. At times, it seems like the main character/narrator is 10, and other times she acts like she’s 18. It’s confusing and, personally, confuses me.

This story had good ideas, and I feel it could have been a genuinely good story. But the author’s lack of basic storytelling skills is clear.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byBlue2102 March 30, 2020
I don't understand this book. I mean it could be a good coming of age novel as it talks about sex, rape and friendship, but it just doesn't have a coherent structure. I feel like the author made the sentences as un-understandable as she could.
Teen, 13 years old Written byHumanWhoEnjoysR... July 20, 2019

I was expecting better.

I am an avid reader and was excited to read this book...boy was I disappointed. I did not enjoy the style of writing at all and the way the book was put together was confusing. Some stories were interesting but others were boring and unnecessary. Overall I found it hard to get through and did not form any emotional attachment to the characters.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive role models
Sexy stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written bypenker September 30, 2020


I'm a ninth grader and I had this for summer reading back in 7th grade. I nearly burned the damn thing it was so hard to read. There is no plot, tons of characters only appear once but don't have any metaphorical purpose, and it is written in vignettes that I could have written in third grade. Some of them don't have any meaning. They're just there to give these weird explanations for things that shouldn't have been explained. One chapter, Darius & the Clouds, is a prime example. WHO IS DARIUS! Never mentioned in the entire book other than this chapter. Also, how can you get drunk on sky? Makes no sense. And this Darius guy sounds like and idiot, and then she thinks he's right when he picks out a random cloud and says that one is God. This is the crap this book is filled with. And guess what? After reading it in 7th grade, my 9th grade teacher has us reading it again! This is a dumb book that is poorly written and doesn't have a plot. I have requested to change english classes so I don't have to read this. NEVER EVER EVER EVER READ THIS BOOK. And by the way the reason why I put 18 and up is to save kids from reading this.
Teen, 17 years old Written bybakedbeansfromw... July 16, 2020

Bad writing, impossible to follow, seems like it was written by an 8 year old

I was assigned this, and luckily it is short or else I would probably pass out from being so bored. The writing style is like an 8 year old who can't think of any ideas except ones that can be stretched to only a few paragraphs long. I am surprised that my teacher assigned this, and when we go back to school I bet the teacher will be like OH WOW THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. The writing style is for 4 year olds, you have to be a literary professor to know what is even going on, and some of the things they say and suggest are for 16-18 years old. This is a book that no one can enjoy. 0 stars if i could, would not recommend.
Kid, 10 years old July 4, 2020

Not the best

While I didn't hate this book, I didn't like it. It is a series of one and a half page stories about the various neighbors of Esperanza, a fourteen year old who acts like she's ten or eleven sometimes. It portrays men as rapists, abusers, and bums who capture women to marry and then throw in the house to cook for him. There were some stories I liked, but some were boring and inappropriate, like when Esperanza gets raped, and when her neighbor gets arrested for speeding and is beat up by the cops. The stories had no central theme, and it took me a few times reading some stories to figure out what was going on. It would have been better if the stories had been advertised as diary entries, because that's what they felt like to me. I don't want to dislike this book because it's supposed to be so good, but I dislike it.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Teen, 13 years old Written byZDreads May 4, 2020

A girl who is finding who she is.

When I read the book The House on Mango Street I felt for the main character Esperanza and I felt what she was feeling but, I also think that the plot of the book is a little snakey because every little story is a story that if you read closely tells a problem that Esperanza is holding in to and how lonely she feels. But, In the end, she has a better understanding of her family, she knows what she wants, and she has friends.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Kid, 11 years old May 1, 2020


Was very confusing

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byparis76 March 19, 2020

The worst book I was ever forced to read!

This book makes no sense. My school made me read it over the summer and I needed my mom's help reading the book because it was very hard to understand. Also it talks about random things and goes off topic the whole time. There is no main thing that is happening in the story. And because of that it becomes boring to read. even my teachers said that it was not a good book. I don't recommend reading this because of the lack of interest it will bring to you. This book is waste of time!

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byevangelin February 12, 2020

This book is really good for teenagers and adults!

This book was about a young girl named Esperanza who tells about her childhood. She talks about what she saw and went through as a child. It does have a few flaws but it's a really good book.
It does mention things a little inappropriate like her being raped and how when she and her friends got heels a man tried to pay one them to give him a kiss. But overall this book is really good. These simple things mentioned in this book are relatable to young adults and teenagers. All who may have seen this or been through it themselves.
This book sends a relatable message to all who've been through this or seen this happen. It also is relatable to all who don't want to be like other people they see. Like Esperanza she didn't want to become the woman sitting by the window. Other things people can relate to is being left out or treated differently because of your wealth or race.
This book is really good because so many people can relate to it. Also because there isn't just one thing that can be relatable there are many. Esperanza is also a really good role model to young adults and teenagers.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byBksmith17 December 20, 2019

This Thing is Worse than I could ever Imagine

This book is offensive, wrong, and overall hell to read. The book has a strange lack of quotation marks (there isn't a single one) which makes reading it even harder. This book is sexist, racist, and insensitive. Almost every chapter follows a plot of either "man bad girl good" or "Mexican better than everyone".

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Teen, 17 years old Written byRasputinsdog September 8, 2019

Pretty bland and lacks adequate story development.

I had to read this book for class and too be honest it is the book that most would think of when describing a high school english assignment. It really felt like it was grasping at straws meaning wise and the characters were under developed. It felt like it kept trying to say something but was falling short.
Teen, 17 years old Written byHoshinokodou August 18, 2019

A Good Book for a Reason.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is a very well made story that all readers, no matter the age, should enjoy.
The book is about a teenager named Esperanza who lives in a house on Mango Street. She solely lives there so her family can save up their money to buy a real home that they can stay at. The house they live in is very old and not so well developed. The main objective is for Esperanza to live in a real home with everything working well and looking nice. She aims towards this objective in the story because in the first few pages in the story, A Nun says “You live there?” as she pointed at her house. At that point in the story she realizes that she needs a real home to live in. While she lives in her house on Mango Street, her main objective is to make friends there, no matter the cost. She will want to meet people. She also has some internal problems like her self-confidence and how she thinks that she is ugly. Like in the story, she mentions “Most likely I will go to hell and most likely I deserve to be there” and “I am ugly, and I can’t change that.'' As the story progresses, Character growth grows more and more and you start to feel attached to the characters in the story.
I think this story is very good to read, especially for teenagers. The reason I think that people should read this is because it relates a lot to the real world. I personally like the book due to its realism and the harsh reality some of the characters have to face. It is also relatable to some of the people who will be reading this book. Maybe they will find their way out with Esperanza with this journey in the story.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Teen, 15 years old Written bydgfbdbv April 12, 2016

eh is alright but to many hooker stories

eh its not that great

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Sexy stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byalivia_marie January 13, 2011


For the love of hmanity don't force your children to read this book. I thought about shreding this book after I read it, but I couldn't since its a book I had to read for school. :P