Communicator of the Month: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Our Communicator of the Month series showcases individuals whose voices have made a lasting impact on our country. Over the past few years, more and more narratives — often those that explore love, representation and experience — have been labeled dangerous to our society. From environmental awareness to racial justice, storytellers have used their books to open our eyes, walk us in the shoes of others and move many to action.

In 2024, we celebrate 12 impactful authors and their books that have helped us to be better listeners and more informed activists. Through their words, they teach us to see and to care about the people around us and the world we live in.

 

“Revenge only engenders violence, not clarity and true peace. I think liberation must come from within.” — Sandra Cisneros

 

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros stands as a testament to the power of storytelling in illuminating the human experience. Published in 1984 and set against the backdrop of a working-class, Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago, Cisneros weaves together a tapestry of vignettes, offering readers an intimate glimpse into the life of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina navigating the complexities of adolescence, identity and aspiration amidst the constraints of her surroundings.

In this book, Cisneros gives diverse voices a platform to be heard and empowers readers to explore how belonging and resilience impact marginalized communities. The portrayals of the characters working to achieve the American dream as immigrants in the U.S. are thoughtfully illustrated, highlighting their pursuit of a sense of inclusion in a new city, their perseverance as they face obstacles and their joy in celebrating victories.

For challenging established literary conventions and amplifying historically excluded voices, The House on Mango Street has had a significant influence on education and conversations surrounding cultural differences. The book has become a mainstay of curricula at universities, high schools and middle schools across the U.S., sparking crucial discussions about social justice, community and identity.

The characters’ experiences in The House on Mango Street echo those of young Latinx advocates today as they navigate their own paths toward leadership and social change. Cisneros’ work offers insights into the changing terrain of Latinx identity in modern society, ranging from the increase of Latinx representation in politics to the growing impact of Latinx voices in mainstream media.

Cisneros’ ability to capture the experiences of minority communities has resonated well with audiences of all ages; in 2023, she was honored with an award for writers who help foster “understanding between and among people.”

Due to The House on Mango Street’s lasting impact, readers are reminded of the transformational ability of literature to foster empathy, spark critical thinking and drive societal change.

Interested in contributing to a more inclusive and diverse cultural narrative? The House on Mango Street is available online and in most public libraries.

Mexican American author Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954 and is well known for her moving portrayals of the Latinx experience in the United States. Cisneros has received multiple honors, such as the National Medal of Arts and the MacArthur Fellowship.