Favorite Book Feature: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The last Friday of every month this year I’ve featured one of my favorite books and shared why I love it. In case you missed them, here’s the books I’ve featured:

January—A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher
February—If I Stay by Gayle Forman
March—The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes
April—13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
May—Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
June—Everlost by Neal Shusterman
July—Legend by Marie Lu
August—Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
September—The Selection by Kiera Cass
October—Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
November—The Reader by Traci Chee

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My Favorite Books Shelf

For December, I chose to feature The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, a book I fell in love with in college and which had an influence on my novel Somewhere Only We Know.

The House on Mango Street is a short novel made up of vignettes (short scenes) about Esperanza Cordero, a young girl growing up in a poor neighborhood in Chicago. Esperanza has always wanted a house of her own where she could be free, but what she got was a small house on Mango Street. Despite her circumstances, Esperanza learns to write and hope for the future. The House on Mango Street is a beautiful story with poetic prose that features so many interesting characters and so much hope despite the pain in those character’s lives. Esperanza’s name even means “hope.”

The main reason I love this book is because of the language. It is incredible to read this book and see how Cisneros can take a page-long vignette and show you so much about a character. Cisneros’s language is spare and precise, and the lines feel like poems with how smooth they sound. One of my favorite paragraphs at the end of a vignette is this: “Marin, under the streetlight, dancing by herself, is singing the same song somewhere. I know. Is waiting for a car to stop, a star to fall, someone to change her life.” The fragments make the words seem like a song, and they are so beautiful.

This book will also hold a place in my heart like all of the books that influenced Somewhere Only We Know do. The House on Mango Street is one of the books Frankie reads in my novel. I included this book because I wanted Frankie to see how Esperanza was able to overcome her difficult situation and still find hope.

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The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

I hope you enjoyed reading my Favorite Book Features as much as I enjoyed rereading each of these great books! I plan on doing another post with short features on the books on my favorites shelf that I did not feature, so be looking out for that.

Behind the Scenes of Somewhere Only We Know: The Books Frankie Reads

One of my favorite things about Frankie Worthington, the main character of my novel Somewhere Only We Know, is that she’s a reader.

Like me, her mother instilled a lifelong love of books in Frankie when she was a young girl, taking her to the library often and getting lots of books into her hands. Unlike me though, Frankie didn’t have anyone to actually buy her books and she resorted to stealing them.

When her father gives Frankie her very first book as an apology for hurting her, Frankie can’t believe that she gets to write her name inside the cover and that the book is all hers. Frankie has a deep respect for books and turns to them when her life is too difficult to bear. For Frankie, and for many readers, books are a way of escaping reality and going someplace better. When Frankie is reading, nothing can hurt her.

These are some of the books that Frankie reads that I featured in Somewhere Only We Know. Some of them I read when I was Frankie’s age. Some of them reminded me of Frankie so I chose to include them. And some of the featured books inspired and reflected themes of Somewhere Only We Know.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Frankie’s class is reading The Giver at the start of my book. I chose to include this novel because when Jonas is introduced to books his world is completely changed. This is the very first book that Frankie is given, and it shows her how important books are. The Giver is also a source of inspiration to Frankie when she attempts writing.

Esperanza Rising by Pan Munoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising was one of my favorite books when I was Frankie’s age. I figured she would also enjoy a book about hope.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

I actually read this one in college, but it’s about a thirteen year old girl who lives in a poor neighborhood that’s full of mistreated girls. I knew that Frankie would identify with Esperanza and would enjoy the poetic prose.

Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis

When the Pevensie children return to Narnia in Prince Caspian, there is the feeling of both going back to someplace familiar and of everything being different. In Somewhere Only We Know, Frankie and her friends return to the tree where they used to play often. Frankie loves being able to return to this place that was once wonderful, but at the same time their lives are completely different now and something about their special place feels really different.

Keeper of the Night by Kimberly Willis Holt

This last book is only mentioned briefly in Somewhere Only We Know, but this book reminds me a lot of mine. In Keeper of the Night, Isabel’s mother has killed herself and she now has to go on, acting brave and taking care of her younger siblings. Isabel reminded me a lot of Susan, and also of Frankie with their mutual love of swimming.

Books Frankie Reads
Some of the books Frankie reads in Somewhere Only We KnowKeeper of the Night by Kimberly Willis Holt, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, and The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.