Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn’t want to belong- not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza’s story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become.
I’ve never read a book like this one- the style of storytelling the author chose for this is just unique. It’s told in a series of snapshots- on the back cover it calls them “vignettes.” This the word origin and history for the word “vignette”:
1751, “decorative design,” originally a design in the form of vine tendrils around the borders of a book page, especially a picture page, from Fr. vignette, from O.Fr., dim. of vigne “vineyard” (see vine). Sense transferred from the border to the picture itself, then (1853) to a type of small photographic portrait with blurred edges very popular mid-19c. Meaning “literary sketch” is first recorded 1880, probably from the photographic sense.
I like the “photographic portrait with blurred edges.” That’s honestly the best way to describe Sandra Cisneros’s writing style. Each chapter is like a still in a movie… but the blurred edges make it more natural somehow. Even though you can picture it perfectly in your head, you still have the freedom to picture it in your own way. No one will imagine it the same. The main picture will be the same- but each person’s edges will be different.
I would definitely recommend this book- just because it’s so different from anything else I’ve ever read. This author has an amazing ability to write! Honestly, almost every other sentence has a simile in it. Or a metaphor. Or personification. Sandra Cisneros’s ability to use language is unbelievable. Her voice and style and writing just flows so well… so naturally.
Read it. If you’ve already read it, read it again. You’ll notice things you hadn’t noticed before.