Book Review: The House on Mango Street

This is from the back cover:

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.

Reason #3: The Garden

School has started, so I won’t be updating as frequently as I would like to. But I’m still going to try!

Anyway, I love the garden. My mom is an avid gardener, so our yard is lush and green and blooming during the spring and summer. It’s beautiful.

One of the greatest things about it is how calm and unworried you feel when you’re out there. Seriously, it’s impossible to be stressed out about anything when you sit on the bench and watch the birds and squirrels and butterflies. One of my favorite things to do is grab a book and sit out there and read. (I can’t really do that right after it rains or in the evening though, because that’s when I get eaten alive by mosquitoes.)

It’s also wonderful to sit outside with my laptop and work on my manuscript. (The best part is when the internet is too slow or doesn’t work, because then I have nothing to distract me.) I even do my homework outside sometimes.

And sometimes… sometimes I do nothing. Sometimes I just sit there, on the bench, and look around me, and breathe in the scents of the garden, and just… think. About life. About how wonderful it is to be alive and well. Sometimes I watch the birds in the birdbath or the squirrels scampering around or the occasional rabbit that eats my mom’s hostas. (We also get a lot of deer that eat the tulips, but you never see them during the day. They come by night. Those sneaky deer!)

Anyway, when I sit in the garden like that, it reminds me of this quote from The World of Pooh by A.A. Milne ( an excellent book, by the way- if you haven’t read it already, read it, and if you have read it, read it again):

Christopher Robin has just asked Pooh what he likes best in the world. Pooh says, “What I like best in the whole world is Me and Piglet going to see You, and You saying ‘What about a little something?’ and Me saying, ‘Well, I shouldn’t mind a little something, should you, Piglet,’ and it being a hummy sort of day outside, and birds singing.”

And then, Christopher Robin says, “I like that too, but what I like doing best is Nothing.”

Pooh: “How do you do Nothing?”

Christopher Robin: “Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do, Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and then you go and do it.”

It’s just… so simple and so true. I mean, the best part of Pooh is how simple he is- not a care in the world! All he worries about is his honey. Silly old bear. 🙂

And when I sit out in the garden, it’s sort of like taking a break from life- I can get away from all the hustle and bustle of life, and all the stress from school… and I can concentrate on simple things. Sometimes life is way too complicated… and you just need to stop for a moment and smell the flowers (yeah, I know that was really cliche).

But it’s true.

Taking Action

Time for me to quote one of my favorite poems by Shel Silverstein:



All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas

Layin’ in the sun,

Talkin’ ’bout the things

They woulda-coulda-shoulda done…

But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas

All ran away and hid

From one little did.


~Shel Silverstein~

I like this poem so much because there’s a lot of truth in just a few words. It’s about taking action. No matter what the situation is, just sitting there and thinking about what you should do isn’t going to help. Worse is looking back on something and wishing and wishing and wishing that you had done something differently.

It’s happened to me quite a few times… and I can tell you, nothing is worse than that sense of regret after a missed opportunity. When you have a chance to do something, do it! Don’t wait… because that chance may never come again. Actually, I wrote a poem about opportunity- it’s called “The Visitor.” Check out the Short Stories and Poems page to read it. 🙂

You may have heard a lot about acceptance. You know, that you should learn to accept things for the way they are… and that’s true. To a certain extent. The thing is, you need to be able to accept things, but you also need to know when it is in your power to change things. If something’s happening, and you don’t like it, don’t complain to all your friends and family about how terrible it is- do something about it! Complaining will solve nothing… knowing what to do will solve nothing, if you don’t put that knowledge to use!

All that crap you hear about “one person can make a difference” and “you can change the world”… well, you know something? That crap is true. Don’t listen to anyone who says it isn’t. Don’t get discouraged… just keep trying. It’s like this quote:

“Even a fool knows we can’t reach the stars, but that doesn’t stop the wise man from trying.”

Don’t let those fools fool you. Because there will be people who will tell you flatout that you can’t. And it’s your job not to listen to them and keep trying anyway.

Dream, because if you dream, you have something to shoot for. But don’t forget to shoot as well as dream, because if you only dream and don’t do, nothing will happen. Dreams are the moon and actions are rockets.

Yeah, I totally came up with that myself. Pretty good, huh? 😉

My dream is to get my book published and become an author… and you know what? It’s going to happen. Because I’m going to make it happen. No matter what anyone says.

I found this when I was looking for a song for one of my school projects. I really like it because both the music and the lyrics are great. Usually it’s one or the other, but this is one of the few times when it’s both: