Small But Mighty
Christmas is a special time of the year. It can be a sweet and memorable delight, but it can also be a stocking full of extra pressures and demands. Gifts, store bought and homemade, decorations and preparations, food and traditions; they all take time and money. At times it can become overwhelming. It can feel like a frantic ride—kind of like a monkey riding a sheepdog at a rodeo. It can be crazy.
It’s not always easy to squeeze in reading time during this busy season. I was going to review more Christmas books just to get into the spirit, but I find myself short on time and patience. As Sweet Brown would say, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” It seems the quest to find a good Christmas book has become an extra stress. I did manage to read one more book with a Christmas setting, and it was cute—but maybe too cute. In the end it seemed geared toward a much younger audience, and I just couldn’t wholeheartedly recommend it. So for Christmas book recommendations, I am coming up empty-handed. And instead of adding that unnecessary pressure, I decided to skip Christmas books and just go where the wind blows me.
This week I opted for a quick read in The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. This book is intriguingly different in an abrupt style on random thoughts in child’s journal. It is narrated by a girl growing up in an impoverished Latino section of Chicago in a sad, red house on Mango Street. My first thought when I saw such a thin and simple book was that it couldn’t have much of an impact. I was wrong; the sparse words in the book convey full meaning. It seems real, honest, and thought-provoking, like Esperanza’s realization that hips are more than just body parts. She likens a girl’s hips to being “ready and waiting like a new Buick with the keys in the ignition.” Her observations and thoughts wander through fields of embarrassment, naiveté, despair, sorrow, and hope with a voice that is almost poetic at times. For example, the first time she wears high heels and notices that men can’t take their eyes off of her friends and her, she declares, “We must be Christmas.”
This is a book that is assigned reading in many classrooms. But just as youth is wasted on the young, many books assigned in school are not appreciated as much as when you read them again as adults. Although I believe students may welcome the brevity of the book, adults will value the content. I did.
You can never have too much sky. You can fall asleep and wake up drunk on sky…
Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street (New York: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., 1984), 33.
…Diseases have no eyes. They pick with a dizzy finger anyone, just anyone.
Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street (New York: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., 1984), 59.
People who live on hills sleep so close to the stars they forget those of us who live too much on earth.
Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street (New York: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., 1984), 86.
One day I’ll own my own house, but I won’t forget who I am or where I came from.
Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street (New York: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., 1984), 87.