I heard that author Sandra Cisneros would be reading from her books on the far north side of Chicago. At the time, I was attending a workshop in Gary, Indiana with one of my sisters. I told her about the event and she graciously agreed to drive that distance so I could hear Ms. Cisneros.
My sister displayed a lot of spirit and she didn’t mind dealing with the traffic. To me, it would have been unthinkable. But she did drive the long distance and when we reached the bookstore, of course there was nowhere to park. It’s a north side thing!
She drove around and around as we looked at the entry to the bookstore. We finally agreed that I should go on in as she continued to look for a place to park. But here is the quencher. After I went into the bookstore, it was so packed. There was standing room only. I could hear her reading, but I couldn’t see her. I wasn’t able to get a glimpse of her arm, hair, nothing. Just her voice!
I stood on my tiptoes and leaned both ways. Nothing. After trying that a few times, I went back out and caught my sister who was still circling the block. I let her know that it wasn’t working.
And what does that say about a great writer? It shows that she is loved and revered by many who traveled and obviously found parking on the north side of Chicago. And that is no easy feat.
Sandra Cisneros calls herself a Chicano writer and was born in Chicago. Her stories deal with urban life in the Mexican community. I am familiar with The House on Mango Street and Woman Hollering Creek.
In House on Mango Street, Esperanza’s family has moved into several apartments on this street. It is considered to be a coming-of-age story. She observes the powerless women around her and she vows that she will make different choices when she becomes a woman. She sees them at the mercy of their husbands and boyfriends and they are unable to function independently. She begins to write and this gives her an outlet as she searches for her own path in life.
Her other work, Woman Hollering Creek is a collection of short stories that deal with those living close to the Mexican border. They are regularly affected by immigration. Those women in abusive relationships seek freedom and must cross the border going either into Mexico or to the States. Sometimes, they have to leave children or family behind and there is a place in central Texas called Woman Hollering Creek. It is said that the wails can still be heard there.
Different characters tell their stories in this work as they voice their hopes and acknowledge their shattered dreams. We care about each one and we become more sensitive to the pains of those who have to make such hard decisions as they look for a better life.
I enjoyed her works and I salute Sandra Cisneros during this Women’s History Month.
Lynn March 14, 2015