Our pick for April is The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. The book won the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award in 1985 and has sold over five million copies to date. Cisneros is a Chicago-born writer who is a dual citizen of the United States and Mexico. She has received numerous literary and cultural honours and grants, including the American Book Award. Her work is inspired by her experience as a Chicana woman and life growing up in the Humboldt Park neighbourhood on Chicago's West Side. Her writing explores poverty, Chicana culture and identity identity, and the difficulty of straddling two cultures. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a MFA in Creative Writing, Cisneros returned to Chicago and began teaching high school dropouts at the Latino Youth Alternative High School. In September 2016, President Barack Obama presented her with the National Medal of Arts.
Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.
Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.
Instead of questions, pick your favourite vignette or short chapter to discuss. You can read it aloud, come up with discussion questions for it, or just talk about it (or all of the above). Pick one to three; we'll do one each, and more if there's time.
Have you read it? We'd love to hear from you! Let us know what you think in the comments below.