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The House on Mango Street    by Sandra Cisneros order for
House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, Softcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

The House on Mango Street is a little gem of a book. Esperanza Cordero is a girl whose parents came from Mexico and are now living in America. The short chapters, all with titles, tell about the house that the family finally moved into - not as grand as her parents had hoped for or talked about, but a real house, nevertheless. They no longer had to worry about the neighbors downstairs complaining about their noise or the landlord not fixing things.

As Esperanza enjoys her new freedom to romp about a neighborhood, we learn about her neighbors, friends, and family through her young, observant eyes. She doesn't always understand what she's describing, which makes the vignettes even more enjoyable. She plays outside with her sister Nenny and her friends Lucy and Rachel, gradually growing from little girl to teenager. As she grows, she becomes determined that she won't be one of the girls who marry too young and are mothers while still in their teens.

Her parents send Esperanza to Catholic schools and stress the importance of an education. Her mother 'can speak two languages. She can sing an opera. She knows how to fix a T.V.' She tells Esperanza: 'Esperanza, you go to school. Study hard. That Madame Butterfly was a fool ... Shame is a bad thing, you know. It keeps you down. You want to know why I quit school? Because I didn't have nice clothes. No clothes, but I had brains.'

The House on Mango Street is a book that you can zip through in a couple of hours, or read slowly, like poetry, savoring each morsel. Either way you'll remember the people Esperanza knows, who live on Mango Street. There is something else you'll enjoy about the book, too. Sandra Cisneros has written an introduction, telling about how she came to write this book, and, in the process, become an author.

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