Saturday, March 15, 2008

The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros and Negativity Meme

Title: The House on Mango Street
Author: Sandra Cisneros
Date Finished: March 14, 2008
Yearly Count: 13
Pages: 110
Rating: 3/5

Esperanza is a fourteen-year-old Latina whose family has just moved to a run-down flat on Mango Street in a Latino neighborhood of Chicago. The House on Mango Street is comprised of several short vignettes about Esperanza's coming of age and coming to terms with her place in society and how she yearns for change.

The book is a quick read, but it is filled with literary imagery that help explain the expectations of a poor Latina and the dreams that Esperanza has of overcoming those low expectations. I loved the ending of the book--and even pulled out my pencil to make a few notes, something I haven't done since grad school. The copy I have was marked up by a highschooler, so I didn't feel too bad about leaving my own mark. This is one that I could see myself revisiting in a few years.

Jeane at Dog Ear Diary tagged me for this meme (which I believe can originally be found at The Hidden Side of a Leaf)
1. When you dislike a book, do you say so in your blog? Why or why not?
My blog is my reading journal--I used to keep a hard copy, but I can type a lot faster than I can handwrite. Because of this, I wouldn't necessarily call what I do reviewing but rather creating a record of my thoughts for my personal use. It's just an added bonus that I've met all of you! Because of that, yes, I do say so in my blog if I don't like a book. I especially try to explain *why* I don't like a book.
2. Do you temper your feelings about books you didn’t like, so as not to completely slam them? Why or why not?
I try to be fair in my judgments. In the last review I wrote of a book I didn't like, I also explained that it was a book I didn't understand (The Left Hand of Darkness). I am not a book critic, so I am not qualified to determine whether a book is bad literature or not. So all I can do is talk about how the book made me feel and why I liked it or didn't.
3. What do you think is the best way to respond when you see a negative review about a book you enjoyed?
It happens! I would never lash out on the reviewer, though. People's opinions are so different.
4. What is your own most common reaction when you see a negative review of a book you loved or a positive review of a book you hated?
A little bit of disappointment, but again, it happens--why dwell on it? A few weeks ago I read the same book as my sister: Water for Elephants. I didn't like the book, but she loved it. I told her how I felt, but I didn't try to convince her that my reasoning was better. I felt awful that I didn't like it as much as she did, but we tried another book last week and both really liked it.
5. What is your own most common reaction when you get a comment that disagrees with your opinion of a book?
Like Jeane says, I find it interesting to read everyone's different opinions. I only had one comment that was offensive--but I have a sneaking suspicious the commenter was a lot younger and wasn't taught manners. Also, they commented that the book that I didn't *love* was their favorite book by a particular author, but it is the only one they've read by the author. Take it with a grain of salt and move on. I appreciate diversity, but I also appreciate when it is done with respect.
6. What if you don’t like a book that was a free review copy?
It hasn't happened yet because I don't get ARCs. You can't like *every* book, though.
7. What do you do if you don’t finish a book? Do you review it or not? If you review it, do you mention that you didn’t finish it?
If I don't finish a book I won't review it. Typically, though, I will pick the book up later and finish it. I don't like to leave things lingering for too long (lingering half-read, that is).


Jeane said...

Never read the House on Mango Street but I've heard the title so many times I was always curious to know what it was about. Glad to know!

Ana S. said...

Not too long ago someone recommended The House on Mango Street to me, but I can't remember who it was. It sounds like a good book, and I'm curious about the ending!

I think you do a great job explaining why you don't like the books you don't like. I like how your posts are always so earnest and personal - they are a good example of the reason why I trust the opinions of fellow book bloggers more than the standards of quality of professional critics.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Christina - my first intro to House on Mango Street was for a short fiction class in grad school, so I only read bits and pieces. It certainly wasn't enough to get a good taste of it. It's a shame that your book was so heavily censored.

*Jeane - It's a pretty easy/fast read, but it contains some powerful themes.

*Nymeth - I thought about writing about the ending, but I hate putting spoilers in my posts. :) I guess you'll just have to find out yourself!! And thank you for your kind words. I do feel that I put a lot of emotion into my posts--and often wonder if it is not such a good thing, but because this is my journal so to speak, I couldn't imagine it any other way.

Anonymous said...

I loved House on Mango Street! Your meme brings up some interesting thoughts. I'll have to bookmark to try it soon... Thank you.

Bellezza said...

I'll never forget the story in The House on Mango Street which is about someone's old sweater and the teacher thinks it's hers. Oh, that was just heartbreaking to me, how the teacher wouldn't listen, but stuck to her false judgement. Which reminds me, aren't most judgements false?

BookGal said...

I agree with you on your meme ... I think we all do treat each other with respect and that's really important to me.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*bkclubcare - I'm glad I picked up House on Mango Street. I had read a few of the vignettes a few years ago, but I enjoyed reading the piece as a whole.

*Bellezza - it does seem like a lot of judgments are either false or mis/un-informed. It's certainly unfortunate.

*Bookgal - the respect is really important to me as well. I feel that if one only has negative and hateful things to say, why bother saying them on someone's blog. I have really enjoyed the bookblogging community because people are so respectful.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever read serials posted on someone's blog?

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Aliceaudrey - I'm not quite sure what you mean. There are several blogs that I read fairly regularly, but in terms of literary serials, I guess not? I might be interested, though!

Anonymous said...

I think the book was hard to follow, but still it was a good book if you paid attention. the similes and metaphors were some of the best I've ever heard. I recommend this book to all high schools.

Amanda said...

Okay, so here we differ. I really, really didn't like this book. I felt it was arrogant and like I was being talked down to. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I grew up in a poor hispanic neighborhood. I don't know. But for some reason, this book really disappointed me. I'd wanted so much more.

My review here.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Amanda - I'm pretty ambivalent about this book although there were parts I did like--and I think Cisneros is trying to play on some sassiness which is perhaps coming across as arrogance? I don't know--it's been months since I read it so I'm a little foggy. :(