📖: Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street (1983)
🍸: home in the heart
Why this book?
Cisnero’s novel is about a young girl named Esperanza, who longs for a house of her own, far away from her family’s house on Mango Street in Chicago. She dreams of going somewhere else where she’s free to be herself, to be an artist, to be unmoored from the expectations of what it means to be a girl in her Latinx neighborhood.
But no matter how far Esperanza will eventually go, the house on Mango Street will always be a part of her. “One day I’ll own my own house,” she muses, “but I won’t forget who I am or where I came from…because I know how it is to be without a house…I have gone away to come back. For the ones I left behind. For the ones who cannot out.”
I was really swept up in Cisnero’s evocative portrayal of the aspirations, observations, and concerns of a girl in the process of discovering who she wants to become. I enjoyed that the novel was written in an unusual way (through a series of vignettes), and Cisneros has such a beautiful way of painting a scene with brevity and simplicity.
Through Esperanza’s reflections on the purpose and direction of her life, Cisneros poses the question of whether the work that we do (and the art that we create) should be done in the service of others. If yes, then what would this look like?
I was just finishing this book when I heard of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, which made these questions even more timely and relevant. When asked by the Stanford Daily in 2017 what advice she has for young people, she said, “Whatever paid work you pursue, do something outside of yourself that you really care about, that you are passionate about. Whether it’s the environment [or] discrimination. Do something that will make life a little better for people less fortunate than you.” ❤️️ RIP, RBG
Why this drink?
For this pairing, I made a mango-based drink 🥭 with Campari as a nod to Esperanza’s red house on Mango Street. 🏠
home in the heart
1.25 oz bourbon
0.25 oz Campari
2 oz mango juice
0.25 oz fresh lime juice
pinch of cayenne pepper
Tajin seasoning, or a mix of cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt
- combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake with ice
- use a wedge of lime to wet the rim of the glass, then dip your rim into the Tajin seasoning
- pour mixture into the glass, and serve with ice
Another round, please! 🥂
You might also like:
Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior (1976)
Finished the book? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!