HerStory September 2022: Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros is the perfect author to feature as kids head back to school, because her House on Mango Street is a staple in many school districts in America. This coming-of-age story is Cisneros’ best-known work, and it has garnered piles of awards (as well as been the victim of censorship and challenges due to the fact that it centers a Mexican-American family that lives in poverty and deals with racism and sexual assault). 

In all of her work, Cisneros writes about her character’s search for a sense of belonging. She herself straddles two worlds and two cultures; her entire life, she has moved back and forth between Mexico and the USA, both geographically and culturally. Many of her works are written in both English and Spanish; she noted that she is grateful to have “twice as many words to pick from … two ways of looking at the world.” She often blends the two languages, using one over the other where she feels either language better conveys the meaning or improves the rhythm of the passage, regardless of the main language the piece is in. 

Cisnerors was the first female Mexican-American writer to have her work published by a mainstream publisher, and has worked since then to uplift other Chicana/o writers and help them get published by major publishing houses. Community is central to her work; she truly believes that a rising tide lifts all boats, and works to both support other writers and readers in their journeys. Both the work she does outside of writing and her writings themselves explore issues of identity and belonging. Her goal is to honor and uplift her ancestors; her novel Caramelo is a love letter to her father, and to the unconditional love and support he offered her. Of particular interest to our crafty community, the book is named for an unfinished rebozo (shawl) that the narrator’s great-grandmother was working on before she died: 

“Even with half its fringes hanging unbraided like mermaid’s hair, it was an exquisite rebozo of five tiaras, the cloth a beautiful blend of toffee, licorice, and vanilla stripes flecked with black and white, which is why they called this design a caramelo.”  – Caramelo, 2002

Our Mango Street colorway is bright and powerful, much like the culture Cisneros reflects in her writing. The inspiration is the gorgeous first edition cover of The House on Mango Street.

Books by Sandra Cisneros:

  • The House on Mango Street
  • Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories
  • Martita, I Remember You/Martita, te recuerdo 
  • Caramelo

Want more like this? Here are some other authors we suggest you read/listen to:

  • Isabel Allende
  • Julia Alvarez
  • Erika Sanchez
  • Esmeralda Santiago
  • Laura Esquivel