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Cisneros' Classic "The House On Mango Street," Explores, Celebrates Identity

The October meeting of the Talk of Iowa Book Club discusses "The House on Mango Street," by Sandra Cisneros

“The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, a first-generation Mexican American girl on the cusp of womanhood, growing up in Chicago. It chronicles the experiences of Esperanza as she weaves multiple languages and cultures into her evolving identity while grappling with gender roles, abuse and exclusion in her own neighborhood. The young narrator must ultimately cultivate a sense of home within herself.

The book has its beginnings in Iowa City where Cisneros attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop for poetry and ended up writing vignettes on the weekend which would later become the novel itself. It has now been translated into more than 20 languages and incorporated into curriculum across the U.S.

This is the October meeting of the Talk of Iowa Book Club. Host Charity Nebbe is accompanied by author Sandra Cisneros; Tamara Beuboeuf-Lafontant, professor at Grinnell College and IPR reporter, Kassidy Arena to discuss this celebrated classic book, cherished by readers of all ages.

Interested in joining the next Talk of Iowa Book Club? Our November selection is “Crossing to Safety” by Wallace Stegner. Pick up the book now and join the on-air discussion on November 11.


  • Sandra Cisneros, author, “The House on Mango Street”
  • Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant, professor and Louise R. Noun Chair in Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies at Grinnell
  • Kassidy Arena, IPR reporter who covers Iowa’s Latino and Spanish speaking communities

Audio excerpted courtesy Penguin Random House Audio from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, read by the author.

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