On Friday May 8th at the Central Library, 105 students and staff from Hamilton, Denny, Chief Sealth, and Garfield were lucky enough to meet Sandra Cisneros! In preparation for her visit, students read the book, Caramelo. Most students brought their copy of her book with them to the event.
Sandra started her talk by mentioning she is not a morning person which I am sure most students identified with! Sandra read from Caramelo that related to The House on Mango Street. It related to what happened to the character of Esperanza from The House on Mango Street that described her and her friend being stopped for shoplifting. It really captured the voice of an older teen that Esperanza would have evolved into. She reflected on how she created this story in the book and its relation to an experience she had while living in France. She talked about the process of writing and publishing the book. She began writing it in her 20s – it took 9 years to complete. She mailed off the manuscript while she was in Europe unsure of what would happen. Currently, she is writing a screenplay for a movie about the book.
After she finished reading the story, she had a question and answer session with the students. A student from Hamilton asked why there were no quotation marks in the book. It was something I, and I’m sure other people there, were wondering. The answer: the quotes got in the way of what she was trying to say and made the book more complicated.
Since she asked the students questions as well, she awarded them with a copy of Caramelo when they answered her question about the importance of literature in one’s life. There were many great answers but one that stood out was the student who responded in Spanish, “se alimentó su alma” (it nourished her soul).
She urged the students to use the library and read and gave tips on writing or doing anything that one had a passion for. Sandra spoke of how 25 years ago The House on Mango Street spoke to the experience of people who looked like her. There were no other books like it. Today there are many Latinos/as who are writing about the experience of being a teen. She autographed a book for each student and posed for group photos with each school. It was an exciting event; the audience was attentive and ecstatic about getting a signed copy of the book!