Title: The House on Mango Street
Author(s): Sandra Cisneros
Cover Art by: Edel Rodriquez
Publisher and Year: Random House (1984)
Number of pages: 110
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Descriptive Annotation: The House on Mango Street is told from the perspective of a young woman growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago. Her family is poor and she has conflicted feelings about their home. Each chapter of The House on Mango Street is written as a standalone story. Sometimes the chapters are totally isolated and sometimes the characters are recurring. Many of the chapters are about people who are trapped on Mango Street due to the circumstances in their life. The narrator tells the story of growing up on Mango Street- describing people she meets, growing up, being sexually assaulted, and eventually moving away from Mango Street. At the end of the book the narrator writes that she has now moved away from Mango Street and is writing so that she can achieve some separation from Mango Street though she is now going back for those who were not able to leave.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Linguistically The House on Mango Street is as much poem as story. Each chapter is much like an extended poem, very rhythmic and descriptive. The narrator has a very strong voice that carries through the entire book that makes many of the chapters very emotional. The language in this book uses fairly simple words, but holds extremely complex ideas. Culturally, everyone described in this book is fairly poor. The main character, and many of the characters described in the book are Hispanic. Additionally, much Hispanic and Latino culture is described throughout the book. The narrator is a close friend with two white girls from Texas. The narrator also describes black and Asian people in her narratives. This book has many feminist undertones, the author goes through maturation as the book progresses, and compares herself to other girls and other women. As many of the girls the author grows up with get married or become involved, the author finds that she wants to move away from Mango Street and go her own way.
Interdisciplinary Connections: This book would be a wonderful resource in an art class. Each chapter has a very distinct mood and rich imagery- a great project would be to assign students different chapters and have them create a visual book with an image for each chapter. Additionally, this would fit in well with a social studies class for older grades- students could use the book as an example of the experience of first and second generation Americans living in an impoverished divided neighborhood.
Other Information: I completely enjoyed this book. I think some of the chapters would not be suited for every class of students- but I think many of the chapters in this book could be taken out and isolated and used with many classes. I think that this is definitely a middle school level book overall (though, yet again, there are certain chapters that have the potential to be used with younger grades). I think that this book would really resonate with a lot of students; young women, students with diverse backgrounds, and students who enjoy poetry and writing. Overall, I think this book has a very valuable story to tell- and would be a tale of hope and self-sufficiency that many students could benefit from.