The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The House on Mango Street / 0-679-73477-5
The House on Mango Street is a touching collection of short vignettes centering around the author's childhood and childhood home. The vignettes take a long, hard look at the lives of these children and young women who find themselves lost in a poverty and a culture which makes them feel reduced in value. Basic services such as a home, clothing, and education are provided, but without love - the children feel intensely aware of the fact that they are the unwanted "designated" dregs of society, especially when the white children tell them that they are leaving the neighborhood because too many of the 'wrong types' of people are moving in.
The girl children are introduced - sometimes violently - to the painful realities of womanhood in a poverty stricken culture. One girl is denied by her much-older husband any right to ever leave the house, because he worries that she might find a life outside of him. She wastes away slowly, trapped in a life of unhappiness and monotony. Other girls are coerced into sexual activity by their peers, and the parents turn a blind eye, figuring that this is simply the way of the world.
The author's despair is evident in every word. She wants to escape, to get away, but she also feels guilty for hating so intensely her community and culture. She cannot separate the good parts of her culture from the bad parts which are less a matter of culture and more a matter of poverty, lack of education, and disease. In the end, she vows to leave, but to never forget - and, perhaps, someday to return, and help.
~ Ana Mardoll
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