The House on Mango Street: Recommended Readalikes
What makes a house into a home? Sometimes, it’s the location. Sometimes, it’s the occupants. Regardless of how you define a home, it’s something that Esperanza longs for. “I want a house on a hill like the ones with the gardens where Papa works,” she says. “One day I’ll own my own house, but won’t forget who I am or where I came from.” Young readers looking for similar books full of longing, hope, and home ownership might enjoy the following books:
- Sarai and the Meaning of Awesome by Saraí González
Despite their ages, house ownership is important to both Esperanza and Sarai. When Sarai’s grandparents are forced to move, 11-year-old Sarai immediately wants to help. After all, she’s a viral video star and social activist with her own cupcake business. Is there anything that she can’t do? After enlisting the help of her younger sisters and cousin, the group devises a plan to save the house that simply cannot fail. This book is the first in a series.
- The House that Lou Built by Mae Respicio
Not every dream house has to have space for the entire family. After inheriting a small island from a father she has never met, Lucinda (Lou) dreams of building a 100-square foot tiny house away from her extended family. How hard could building a house possibly be? The alternative is moving to Washington state with her mother and away from her friends and family. When the government attempts to seize the island for unpaid taxes, it’s her friends and family who step up to help.
- The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (series) by Karina Yan Glaser
The brownstone on 141st Street is absolutely bursting with personality, and not just from the house’s quirks. There’s the Vanderbeekers: made up of Papa, Mama, 12-year-old twins Isa and Jessie, 9-year-old Oliver, 6-year-old Hyacinth, 4-year-old Laney, and three pets. There’s also a retired couple, a family who own the local bakery, and Mr. Vanhooten. When the landlord announces that he will not be renewing the lease shortly before Christmas, the Vanderbeeker children set out to show him all the reasons they should be allowed to stay. Readers who enjoy this tightly knit community of neighbors will be happy to learn that this is the first book in a series.
Teens and adults looking for more incredible Latinas with neighborhoods full of family and friends might try some of these titles:
- How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
The four Garcia sisters (Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia) arrive in New York City in 1960 and face an increasing number of cultural shocks. Their transition from a life of prominence and wealth in the Dominican Republic to their lives as immigrants is not easy. Written in reverse-chronological order, the book is told from several points-of-view and divided into three parts: 1989–1972, 1970–1960, 1960–1956. The beginning of the book focuses on the adult lives of the García sisters and their present-day experiences. The middle section describes their family’s immigration experience and their adolescence. Finally, the remaining chapters recall their early childhood on the island. Dominican-American poet, essayist, and novelist Julia Alvarez skillfully captures lived experiences during a period of oppression and instability in the Dominican Republic.
- The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Like Esperanza, Xiomara Batista struggles to express herself outside of her poetry. There’s too much happening inside of her mind: her relationship with her mother and religion, her curiosity about a boy from her biology class, and her growing curves. When she discovers her school’s slam poetry club, she must figure out how to attend without her mami finding out. Even more important, she must figure out how to speak her poems out loud. Readers who enjoyed the magical language of The House on Mango Street will enjoy the writing of Elizabeth Acevedo: “Late into the night I write and the pages of my notebook swell from all the words I’ve pressed onto them. It almost feels like the more I bruise the page the quicker something inside me heals.”
- Umami by Laia Jufresa
Agatha Christie novels won’t bring her little sister back, but twelve-year-old Ana spends her time buried in them anyway. That is, until she decides to plant a milpa in her backyard. Suddenly, the five houses surrounding their shared courtyard are filled with her neighbors’ stories of the past. Much like in Esperanza’s neighborhood, people are growing up, having difficult times, and interconnected in familiar and intimate ways.
This blog is created by Hannah and Ella in conjunction with the These Books Made Me podcast, a Prince George’s County Memorial Library System production. Check out the corresponding episode, The House on Mango Street, on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you normally listen to podcasts. Or you can simply click on the link to the episode to listen.