New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1991. Originally published by Arte Público Press in 1984.
The House on Mango Street is a short book — 110 pages. It’s composed of vignettes, each about 2 pages long. None of the vignettes especially wowed me, but they are all recognizably well-written.
I’m a big believer in short chapters; they make a book much more readable, and The House on Mango Street scores many points just for its structure. The opportunity cost of reading this book is minuscule, and since the writing isn’t bad, I’d say this book is worth reading.
While reading The House on Mango Street, I thought one weakness of the work as a whole was how loosely connected the vignettes are. The vignettes lacked an overarching plot, which made reading the book a bit dull. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the final vignettes built upon earlier ones, raised the stakes, and tied the book together as a whole. It made me wish that I had appreciated the earlier scenes more carefully, so as to be more strongly affected by the conclusion.
One last thought: this is a book firmly rooted in a culture that is not my own. I found it difficult to relate to this work, which is part of why I didn’t find the book overly gripping. I suspect someone with more proximity to first/second generation Latino/a culture in the US would appreciate this book more than I did. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the look into a different culture and appreciated how easy the book was to read.
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