Adults often wish to decide what media children should be allowed to view. One of the most popular forms of censorship has been, for ages, banning books that are deemed to be inappropriate for youths due to controversial subject matter. One of these books is Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street.
The novel was published in 1984 and is a coming of age story with autobiographical elements. It follows Esperanza, a Chicana teenager struggling with growing up in an impoverished neighborhood, and it gives the reader a glimpse into the ways in which the cross-section of race and poverty affect adolescents during the turbulent time of puberty and the navigation of young-adulthood. The choice to ban this book does a great disservice to other Latino youths who may be growing up in a similar situation, or to any youths living in a family faced with economic instability. Though it is likely that school boards who decided to ban this novel were doing so in protest of exposing young adults to the themes of sexuality and sexual assault rather than the issues of poverty and race, they still chose to take a book with a valuable perspective out of their libraries.
Additionally, it is foolish to censor discussion of sexual assault among youth; creating a taboo around talking about something horrific encourages survivors of this type of behavior to keep silent about what they have gone through. Students who read The House on Mango Street may recognize the struggle Esperanza goes through when she is assaulted at the fair after being ditched by Sally and decide that it is time for them to come forward about their abuse. It could help someone struggling with how they come back from assault to find new ways to move forward. Just simply seeing the representation of something like this happening to another young adult could help inspire someone who is feeling alone.
The House on Mango Street offers valuable perspectives that can be useful to any young adult, whether they are Latino or not, whether they have been sexually assaulted or not, whether they grew up impoverished or not; the novel helps to inform readers of experiences in certain parts of the population and being exposed to these experiences that may differ from their own can help make youths more compassionate and understanding of the issues of others.