While I stayed home yesterday from feeling under the weather, I read “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros. I figured since I’m waiting for my April Book of the Month, I can try to read this story as much as I can before returning to work. I wound up reading the entire book in a day. The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza, a Latina growing up in a rough Chicago neighborhood. The novel documents her joys and sorrows in chapters that are short in length yet intense in emotion. Esperanza shares with us the hardships of a family doing their best to thrive while having little. She also talks about the overprotective treatment its female residents endured during their day to day life: women walking home in hurried steps, eyes cast downward, only permitted to gaze out the window if they weren’t blessed the small freedom of standing on their front stoop.
Having Latina heritage myself (My familial roots are in Puerto Rico), I could very much identify with Cisneros’s description of growing up female, under heavy restrictions. My family was extremely overprotective, they had the best intentions in mind, even though I never agreed with their request to leave my friends’ house (across the street) before dark! It was the culture my grandparents were raised in and passed down to future generations. That’s not to say that successes Latina women gain in the working world are shunned. Many Hispanic women are encouraged by family to succeed. When I obtained my graduate degree a few years ago, my family was very proud of me, and applauded each job advancement I gained since then.
The House on Mango Street is a beautiful story of rich Hispanic culture, friendship and strong family ties under the weight of hardship. I found this an enjoyable story to read, and I look forward to reading her other stories and poetry in the near future.