book review response essay

Sandra Cisneros introduces the 25th anniversary edition of The House on Mango Street with an essay describing her life at the time she wrote the book. Most of that essay is written in the third person — Cisneros looking back at herself through the distance of time. The whole essay is lovely and worth reading, but I’m only going to quote a part of it here, where Cisneros is reflecting on how and why she decided to write The House on Mango Street (writing about herself in the third person):

“She thinks stories are about beauty. Beauty that is there to be admired by anyone, like a herd of clouds grazing overhead. She thinks people who are busy working for a living deserve beautiful little stories, because they don’t have much time and are often tired. She has in mind a book that can be opened at any page and will still make sense to the reader who doesn’t know what came before or comes after” (xvii).

I like that quote because I think it is a perfect description of the way this book works. Each chapter is a “beautiful little [story]” that can be read in just a few minutes, but with language and images that you can think about for hours if you want to. At the same time, each story works together like a puzzle piece making up the picture of Esperanza’s life and ambitions as she starts imagining her own future in the context of her family and of America.

When I taught The House on Mango Street last year, I challenged my students to come up with a list of keywords to describe or highlight the important ideas in the book, and this is the list they came up with:

Relationships

Impressionistic

Adolescent

Culture

Ignorance

Neighborhood

Girls

Isolation

Family

Respect

Living situation

Sheltered

Relatable

Honest

Struggle

Poverty

Collage

Eventful

Descriptive

Brown People

Senses

Self-image

Inequality

Curiosity

Diverse

Role models

Womanhood

The hood

Strong willed

Stereotypes

Experiences

As you read the rest of the book, you may find it helpful to think about these keywords and how they identify different important aspects of the book, or you may wish to think about what kinds of keywords you would add to this list.

Reading assignment:

Read the rest of The House on Mango Street.

I will give you my account in kindle to access the book above if you dont have it.