We’re looking at what makes you, you this month, and questions of identity are always questions about stories. Whose story gets told? How do you capture the messy, complicated nature of identity? What impact do race, gender, culture, and poverty have?
That’s why we’re recommending one of the modern classics, which tackles all of those issues and more in just over a hundred pages: The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros.
Published in 1984, Mango Street is the story of a young Mexican-American girl named Esperanza, who lives with her family in Chicago. It shows her growing up, making friends, dealing with trauma, finding joy, and simply making her way in the world.
The novel is notable because of its structure. There isn’t quite a single, unified story so much as a series in short tales and observations that capture different parts of Esperanza’s life.
Because it touches on such important subjects, Mango Street also includes some sensitive subject matter that readers should be prepared for. But Common Sense Media rates the book as good for ages thirteen and up, and it is a staple of high school literature curricula.
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