BOOKS REMAINING: 23
CURRENT BOOK: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
The next book on The List also reflected the Hispanic culture, although this time set in the United States (in my hometown of Chicago, actually). Although Cisneros did not ultimately stay in Chicago, the book features a series of vignettes from her childhood there. These vignettes depict the people in her family and in her neighborhood and the events she remembers. I can see the argument for including Cisneros’ stories as reflective of the female experience, as they deal with family, friendship, religion, school, death, domestic abuse, and other matters encountered by many women in their lives regardless of culture or location.
One thing that especially struck me regarding Cisneros’ experience was her effort to assert her independence from her parents and (as Virginia Woolf might have it) gain something of her own, as she felt solitude and independence would help her creative process as a writer. In her case, girls in her culture did not leave home until they married. My experience was quite the opposite, as my parents “kicked me out of the nest” pretty much the day I graduated from college, even though I wanted to get a new car and get on more stable financial footing before I got my own apartment. I think they believed, wrongly, that I needed to be pushed to be independent. Instead I felt I did not truly have my parents’ support, and it ultimately damaged my relationship with them. Not that I would go back to being in a place where I had to deal with my parents on a daily basis — it worked out horribly when I had to stay with them after Hurricane Katrina — but just like I feared, I ended up with a series of cars that constantly broke down on me at inconvenient times in dangerous places and required repairs I couldn’t afford any more than I could have afforded the payment on a new car, and I ran up my credit card to the point that it took me several years and the emotional support of my now-husband to pay it down. Fortunately for Cisneros, she is able to gain her father’s support when she decides to get her own place.
This was a brief series of short scenes that I finished in two lunch breaks. On to the next book!