Monday, August 2, 2010

The House of Mango Street

It began just as the snow was disappearing. People were beginning to emerge from their homes, wearing lighter clothing and breathing the air more willingly. Everyone had brighter eyes and seemed more willing to be rebellious and just try something new.

That's when I met a customer, a gruff man who gave off the persona that he would much rather be building something with his hands then ever, never, being caught reading a book. He looked around the store and saw me, his eyes widened and he walked over to speak to me, "I'm looking for a book..."

That's when we went on a hunt that resulted in the man grabbing The House on Mango Street off of the bookshelf. "I don't read much," he began, holding the book in his hand and giving it a slight shake, "But I've been told to read this. That it is really great."

The man walked away, buying the book, then disappeared into the spring-like day. Months have passed and I've kept this man on my mind. Every time I saw the book on the shelf, I thought of him. Every time I decided to buy a book, I considered getting this one. Generally, I don't buy books that I want to read right away. I take my time and see how my opinion of it changes over a spell.

Another day at work, this time it's summer with the slightest hint of fall on the air. My coworker points to the book and says it's wonderful and Sandra Cisneros is a fantastic writer. "Read it, it's really great."

So I was convinced and I bought it and I read it and... I loved it. The House on Mango Street is made up of a series of vignettes with beautiful and flowing language so moving that you're caught up in the windstorm of descriptive scenes and finish the book before you realize it. You meet Esperanza who is more or less based on the author herself and follow her through the twists and turns of each day and up and down alley ways of Mango Street as she describes the people around her, wishes for her future, and notes on the small nuances of life.

Although the longest chapter averages out to two and a half pages it's easy to understand exactly what's going on around Esperanza and the type of life she lives in a poor neighborhood in Chicago. But with the open eyes of Esperanza you see how the women of her neighborhood are trapped or lost. She doesn't want to live like that, she doesn't want that entrapment. With determination she wishes and hopes for a house, a real house, one of her own. But there will always be Mango Street in her life and there will always be Mango Street in me.

Sandra Cisneros brought me back to my own childhood where I was more observant with life. The little things mattered and I was constantly considering and hoping for the future. I was in love with this book and I'm still feeling the attraction. This will definitely be reread again and again. Like the customer and my co-worker said, it's great.

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