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December 19, 2010

The House on Mango Street

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The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros: Audio Book Cover

The House on Mango Street

Author: Sandra Cisneros

Page Length: 110

Reading Level: 6-12

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY & REVIEW: The House on Mango Street is a coming-of-age story told in short segments, vignettes, by the main character – Esperanza. She is a young, Hispanic girl who dreams of emerging from her current life of poverty to a life of independence. Esperanza desires to be set free like a bird in captivity.

Esperanza grows up amongst numerous family members and neighbors. Early in her life she travels from one “living situation” to another. When Esperanza’s family settles into their very own home on Mango Street, Esperanza realizes that this is not the home which their family has wished for. Never-the-less, Esperanza makes a life for herself in this new community. During her stay on Mango Street, Esperanza comes in contact (either directly or indirectly) with examples of racism, sexual harassment in the workplace, theft, education at a Catholic school, and physical abuse.

These experiences only add fuel to Esperanza’s fire to continue her storytelling and prepare for her eventual departure away from Mango Street.

This story seems almost as if it were written by Esperanza when she is older, reflecting back on her life as a child. Some background information on Hispanic culture and vocabulary would be helpful to students. The book is a wonderful read and should not be experienced in one sitting. Each of Cisneros’ short chapters is a gem in and of themselves. The vignettes spark interesting questions and analysis while standing alone on their own merit.

As much as Esperanza does not “love” her home life, I believe she truly does have a fond place in her heart for Mango Street. “Her story” is testament to this. I recommend this book to everyone!

AREAS FOR TEACHING: imagery, metaphor, setting, simile, characterization, poetry, symbolism

RELATED BOOKS: The Color Purple

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: “Mi Familia” (1995)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://urbandreams.ousd.k12.ca.us/lessonplans/mango_street/index.htm

http://www.edhelper.com/books/The_House_on_Mango_Street.htm

http://www.webenglishteacher.com/cisneros.html

http://english.byu.edu/novelinks/Novel%20pages/The%20House%20on%20Mango%20Street.htm

http://www.masconomet.org/teachers/trevenen/mango.html

http://www.sandracisneros.com/

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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