March Book Review0
This was a weird reading month for me. I read more than 10 books this month, including an 1100 pager (which I almost reviewed here), but mostly didn’t like what I was reading. I’ve picked the best of the bunch (along with The Source by James Michener, the 1100 pager that was also good).
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros; 3.5 stars (out of 5)
So many of the vignettes that tell this story are both powerful and also so beautifully written.
I’d forgotten that this is a book written in tiny bites, little notions almost. Not linked short stories, but linked moments, more like. It’s an interesting way to tell a story of a child’s life, of a person’s relation to her self/community/location, her dreams. It’s really well done and some bits are even better than that. I really like this. It’s probably best read in one sitting.
I do wish many of the vignettes were longer; I would have liked it more if some of them were expanded upon and fleshed out. It worked to do it this way (and I understand that doing it this way was quite deliberate), but it also (sometimes) broke up what would have been a nicely flowing narrative.
“But the house on Mango Street is not the way they told it at all. It’s small and red with tight steps in front and windows so small you’d think they were holding their breath.”
“It was my great-grandmother’s name and now it is mine. She was a horse woman too, born like me in the Chinese year of the horse – which is supposed to be bad luck if you’re born female – but i think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans, don’t like their women strong.”
“Everything is holding its breath inside me. Everything is waiting to explode like Christmas. I want to be all new and shiny. I want to sit out bad at night, a boy around my neck and the wind under my skirt. Not this way, every evening talking to the trees, leaning out my window, imagining what I can’t see.”
“Sally, do you sometimes wish you didn’t have to go home? Do you wish your feet would one day keep walking and take you far away from Mango Street, far away and maybe your feet would stop in front of a house, a nice one with flowers and big windows and steps for you to climb up two by two upstairs to where a room is waiting for you. And if you opened the little window latch and gave it a shove, the windows would swing open, all the sky would come in. There’d be no nosy neighbors watching, no motorcycles and cars, no sheets and towels and laundry. Only trees and more trees and plenty of blue sky.”
“My mother says when I get older my dusty hair will settle and my blouse will learn to stay clean, but I have decided not to grow up tame like the others who lay their necks on the threshold waiting for the ball and chain.”
“When you leave you must remember to come back for the others. A circle, you understand? You will always be Esperanza. You will always be Mango Street. You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.”