28 March 2016

A House of My Own, by Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros' Loose Woman was a major influence on me as a teenager. A voice I both identified with and aspired to be: a tough, smart, independent woman; one who enjoyed solitude but also relished a good time; who never defined herself by her relationships, despite being a romantic who seemed to fall in love fairly often; who seemed both rooted and cosmopolitan, an immigrant everywhere; who was alive to injustice and full of grievances for the wrongs suffered by women, but also treasured her femininity and saw it as a strength. I certainly read her other books, and am fairly sure that I enjoyed them -- but I confess that it is less her writing that I remember than some kind of sense of her as a person, someone whom I felt like I knew and understood and also wanted to be. So of course I was interested in reading this collection of essays. But what an additional treat I found -- not only does this book collect many wonderful pieces of hers in one place (and with gorgeous color photographs!), but each has a little introduction where she reflects briefly on the piece and the moment of writing it, and how she has grown and changed since. The result, for me, was this incredible palimpsest: as I read her, reflecting back on an earlier moment in her life, I found myself thinking back as well, to the moment in my life when I had read some of her earlier writings, and who I was then, and how I have changed, and how her writing has shaped me.

Not every reader can have such a wonderful experience with this book. But I nonetheless want to buy a copy for every woman I know (I already bought one for my partner's mother). Such wisdom, such grace, such strength. I could hardly love this book more if I tried.

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