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The House On Mango Street

In-depth Reviews

Compiled by Mike Piston

 

Welcome to the In-depth review section of our website.  We have included some members of the class' opinions on the book as well as our teachers' opinions.  In this you will be able to learn more about The House On Mango Street from a little more professional point of view and our opinions.   This will give you information that will help you decide whether or not to read The House On Mango Street.  This can help you decide on many things about the book and help you get a more in-depth understanding of the plot and characters.  - Mike Piston

Reviews of The House On Mango Street from the class.

The House on Mango Street is a creatively and realistically written novel. It accurately portrays life as a minority in a tough neighborhood as a child, and through that child’s eyes. It seems like a biography, so realistic and well told. Each chapter is like a separate book. Looking back at the book, it seems so detailed, packed with different stories, but short because Sandra Cisneros has the incredible ability to write very compactly. This book is truly unique in that it follows no plot or story line. It jumps from hair, to prejudices surrounding Mango Street, to Esperanza’s friend Sally, and provides no link, chapter to chapter. Never having read this type of novel before, it seemed odd and detracted from the overall book. I did not find this book particularly entertaining. Just as you got into a chapter, it was over. Although I enjoyed most of the vignettes, I did not really enjoy the book as a whole. However, I feel that it is excellent for teaching. It an be read in any order, since the chapters are not connected, and in part or in it’s entirety. It is filled with writing techniques and literary devices. Symbolism plays a major part in how the book is interpreted. It requires the reader to think, and read between the lines. Very in depth, it requires a mature mind to fully understand and grasp the meaning, purpose, and story line of the book. Ideal for literary, English, reading, and especially a writing class.

Nina Laney

Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street is a spectacular book full of life lessons for children and adults of all ages. Though it is not for those who concentrate on plot-based novels or do not like poetry, I think it is a beautifully written series of vignettes. Cisneros’s view of the Latino section of Chicago is stunningly accurate, and her tell-it-like-it-is style adds to the truthfulness. The use of literary devices is both creative and effective. The House on Mango Street has been read and interpreted all over the globe, and I think you will enjoy finding out what it means to you.

Lesley Sico

I greatly enjoyed reading Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street. The exquisite collection of vignettes told from the point of view of a young girl maturing in the Latino portion of Chicago, really expressed in great detail what was happening.

This piece really got me thinking about various topics such as discrimination, fears, dreams, and stereotypes. The continuous use of vivid metaphors such as "I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor," complement and exhibit the true beauty of her writing.

After finishing this work of art, I accept, appreciate, and understand her heritage and ethnic background more than ever before. I found myself being the "stupid people" in the chapter "Those Who Don't," but now that I am educated, I hope to not place stereotypes any longer.

Because I am fond of Cisneros' writing, I found pleasure in turning the pages and growing up with Esperanza.

Lauren MacMillan

I can’t really criticize someone’s childhood recollection’s because they are real, not fiction, but I can state my honest opinion. I neither liked nor disliked The House on Mango Street but I thought it was a unique and artistic piece of literature. I thought this because Sandra Cisneros created this book in a way that we’ve never even seen before. She wrote in the point of view of a small child and let her grow up in the book without letting us know everything that was going on. She didn’t pay attention to the rules of grammar, she wrote in sentence fragments and didn’t use proper punctuation. I thought this format was interesting because it almost felt like she was rebelling against everything that we’ve been taught in English class. She told about every neighbor, and person that stuck out in her youthful mind using a child’s perspective. I admire Cisneros' writing ability and I like the fact that she taught a lesson of life in each vignette. I’d easily recommend this book for free reading.

Kristin Turner

I give The House on Mango Street four stars out of five. This was a great book. I love how Cisneros wrote in vignettes instead of chapters. Although I have to admit at first the vignettes confused me, but once I understood its was a new way of writing I discovered I liked it.

Cisneros is very good at alluding to what she is trying to say without actually saying it. She does this in many of her vignettes, but the one that sticks out most to me is in "Red Clowns". In this chapter Cisneros is trying to hint that something bad is happening, but she leaves it up to the reader to figure it out.

That leads me to another aspect of her writing. She writes so that anyone at any age or maturity level can read this book. For example, in "The Earl of Tennessee" Cisneros hints that the girls may be hookers, but doesn’t say it. So a reader depending on their maturity level can pick it up. Say if a ten year old were to read this book they probably wouldn’t get it, but if a fourteen year old did they most likely would.

Last but not least I like how Cisneros hints all throughout the book that Esperanza is growing up and maturing. A few examples are, when Esperanza and Rachel discover they have hips, when they walk through town and men holler at them like they were women, and when she starts to feel like she is too old for "The Monkey Garden".

This was an excellent book, and I would recommend it to any age reader.

Angela Gawrich

A thought provoking book that details the life of Esperanza. Esperanza is a young girl who is growing up in the 1950’s. She has to face poverty, other people expectations, and social issues. She longs to leave Mango Street and her past behind.

This book is more about character development then a plot line. I myself did not like this book. I prefer a book that has a plot line. I also did not like the writing style in this book.

Lynne Sheppard

After reading, The House on Mango Street, I have concluded that I really enjoyed this book. I liked the way it was set up through the different vignettes. It really kept me interested.

Most books are set up in chapters to follow the story along and each chapter is a different part that follows the story. Mango Street is different. The chapters do not follow a plot. They are all different vignettes. I found the many different vignettes interesting. Change is always good.

Another thing in this book that really interested me was her writing style. Cisneros’ style was very impressive. I liked how the main character had different opinions and was basically telling the story of her life as a child and the things that made a difference to her.

Also, as I was reading, the way everything was explained and the styles of words really caught my attention.

Overall, I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to many readers who enjoy unique styles of writing. I would be interested in the future to read another one of Sandra Cisneros’ books.

Laura Brientnall

Mango Street is a riveting story of a young Spanish girl who lives in a deteriorating town. The main character, Esperanza, wants more out of life. She wants a house, one with running water and pipes that work. It would look like a house on TV. She feels like "a red balloon tied to an anchor." The anchor could represent the feeling of her being trapped by her responsibilities. A balloon could never lift a big, huge anchor off the ground; matter of fact, it would take a million balloons to lift an anchor off the ground. The reason she feels like a red balloon is because red stands out. It makes itself seen, but in Esperanza’s case never heard. Mango Street just won’t listen. She wants nothing to do with Mango Street but during her stay there, Mango becomes part of who she is. It is part of her life. She will never be able to get away from Mango. Mango is now something she owns. She can’t forget something she has learned, or can she?

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about life. It will reach down and touch even the hardest of hearts.

Adria Wentzel

Teachers' Reviews

 

Through the eyes and voice of Esperanza, a young Hispanic girl living in a tired section of Chicago, The House On Mango Street comes alive.  Written in a series of vignettes, this novel touches on a number of universal topics, including struggles involving race, gender, sexuality, and relationship issues.   In this moving, poetic masterpiece, Sandra Cisneros gives her readers an authentic glimpse into the harsh realities of life.  She also leaves her readers with a thematic, inspirational reminder to continue to hope and dream.

The House On Mango Street is a great read in both the academic and pleasure reading realms.  Cisneros' use of figurative language provides an excellent backdrop for interpretative reading.  It challenges and inspires students to think beyond literal conventions and into extensive analysis.   As an English teacher, I recommend this novel for any secondary English curriculum; it can be an effective vehicle for any grade and academic level.

Kelley McGhee, English Teacher

 

 

Cisneros is a magic carpenter, a master builder, a marvelous architect – leading the reader through the many hallways, rooms and outer places like a hostess showing her guests the guided tour of her home. Cisneros’ images and her use of compact language clearly bring into focus the details of The House On Mango Street; revealing a world of grand emotion, depth, and awareness.

As I opened the pages of The House On Mango Street in July of 1998, my mind was full of questions. Knowing that I would be teaching this novel to students I hadn’t even met yet, I was concerned about where I would begin, what assessments I would give, and what aspects of the text I would focus on. Soon into the novel though – all of these questions were moved from the forefront and instead, the beauty of Cisneros’ language took control.

Cisneros uses a style of vignettes and prose which flow more like poems than chapters in a novel. She uses many of the elements of poetry as well; imagery, rhythm, sound, and emotion throughout her text. One line can yield an amazing level of intensity with respect to emotions and visual imagery. The reader intuitively knows what the narrator is thinking via the magnifying glass of her words. An example of this can be found in the vignette called "What Sally Said." Sally, a friend of Esperanza (the protagonist), is beaten by her father. Cisneros writes, "Until the way Sally tells it, he just went crazy, he just forgot he was her father between the buckle and the belt." The reader can feel the level of emotion that Esperanza experiences with respect to her friend and the situation. There are no graphic details, but the reader can almost hear the belt snap. The placement of the words and the intricate workmanship of the language reveals so much.

Cisneros also welcomes the reader into the narrator’s psyche. She uses fragments to convey the sense of thoughts running through Esperanza’s consciousness. She also refrains from using quotation marks to break out dialogue. Instead, dialogue flows as parts of thoughts; streams that continue with the flow of ideas. Dialogue is not separated but instead, it is incorporated in order to demonstrate that this is a retelling of stories, not a flash back to what actually happened. We are seeing all of the situations through the eyes of Esperanza and these techniques enhance the level of credibility. Esperanza is the teller of the tale and we, the audience peering into her mind.

The House On Mango Street does not hide the darker aspects of life in a neighborhood, as evidenced by some of the topics addressed such as child abuse, poverty, generational differences, and negative male and female relationships, but nor does it celebrate it. The emotions are subtle and genuine. The reader is forced to earn the joys experienced in this novel, we are not afforded access to them until we too share in some of the sorrow. Again, Cisneros reveals a high level of credibility by the text, which like life, brings you through the sorrow before you experience the joy.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who rejoices in a text that remains true to life, as well as to anyone who believes that the coming of age of a young girl is not a simple phase of life, but instead a great mystery full of depth and wonder, pain and joy. Go ahead, take the risk and knock on Cisneros’ door, entering the house on Mango Street.

Lara Hill, Intern English Teacher

 

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Last updated:  Sunday, March 18, 2001

1998 - Hill, Lara and her English 1 Honors Class