The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

mangoREVIEW:

It was like a dream I did not want to end. A short book that I finished in one sitting. A friend had recommended this book to me when we were discussing writing about the immigrant experience. I loved the book. It reminded me of Miguel Street by V.S. Naipaul as it is written in a similar vein.

In this book, you start feeling for the narrator. It is written so well that I felt myself fit into the characters’ shoes. Example: If someone is slapped in the book I flinched. Such reactions are demanded of the reader only when the prose is written with an empathy for the characters. The effect felt personal also because it is a first person narrative and also because Cisneros has aimed at universality through specifics. Emotions like shame, guilt, confusion, longing, belonging are portrayed very well. The prose has such beautiful metaphors that one is tempted to cut out the lines and frame them.

Examples:

– Our laughter for example. Not the shy ice cream bells’ giggle of Rachel and Lucy’s family, but all of a sudden and surprised like a pile of dishes breaking.

– My aunt, a little oyster, a little piece of meat on an open shell for us to look at.

The short chapters are a good portrayal of memory.

Cisneros says in the introduction to the book that this book came out of her need to read something she could relate to as none of the writing she had read represented her.

Toni Morrison said, ‘If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.’

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