Hello, I hope everyone is having a fantastic Monday and also Happy International Women’s day!
In light of such a special day for women, I’d like to spotlight one of my favorite authors, Sandra Cisneros. While, Cisneros’ is mostly known for writing, “The House on Mango Street,” today I’m going to review her 1991 collection of short stories titled, “Woman Hollering Creek.”
In this collection of short stories Sandra Cisneros captures the complexities of women’s relationship’s to men as well as other issues women, specifically Mexican American women, face or have faced in the past. While the stories focus on the Mexican American woman’s perspective, the topics discussed can be relatable to all women of color or immigrant women living in the United States.
So, I first read “Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros for an English class in college some years ago. I will admit, at first it definitely felt like any other reading assignment. It wasn’t until a few stories in, as well as when we started having class discussions about the book, that I truly started appreciating it. This is very much a book that has to be discussed.
It’s hard to explain, but I feel like even if this book is not my favorite, it is still very special to me. It is essentially the first piece of fiction that I connected with very personally. The stories that Cisneros’ writes, I could see them being about my grandma, my mom, my sisters, friends, or women growing up in my generation in general. Experiencing that for the first time, was just mind blowing to me and I think sometimes when I think of this book, my mind still has a hard time wrapping itself around the idea that this is “fiction” and not “non-fiction.”
I won’t credit it as the only factor, but reading “Woman Hollering Creek” really helped me understand what it means to be a feminist and how I personally define myself as a feminist. The book doesn’t outright talk about feminism at all, so I don’t know if others will have the same take away as me, I’m just saying this is what I learned.
It’s hard to judge the whole collection together because obviously there are stories that hands down, without a doubt in my mind, are worthy of five star ratings. Other stories not so much. Even if that is the case though, I would still classify “Woman Hollering Creek” as an incredibly strong collection.
Usually when I write reviews, I try to bring up the parts of the book that I did not enjoy first and then finish off on a positive note. With ”Woman Hollering Creek” it’s a little difficult because I feel that a lot of it’s good qualities are a double edge sword, and can also be considered off putting.
For example, there is a lot of symbolism riddled though out all of the short stories. Because every reader might have a different take on the meaning of the symbolism, it makes for an interesting discussion. On the other hand the amount of symbolism used can make this collection a bit of a challenge to get through. I will admit, some of the short stories, no matter how many times I read them, I could not decipher.
Similarly, there’s also the Spanish component. At times Cisneros would choose to write certain words in Spanish. I think that if you are a Spanish speaker, it helps you connect to the book a little bit more. In a way it’s like, because you recognize the words it almost feels like an inside joke with the author. The other side of that though is, if you don’t speak Spanish it might feel like you are not the intended audience for the book. Which I can see how it might be off-putting. Keep in mind, the Spanish is minimal, just a word here and there, so I think that it shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but definitely have google translate open while you read.
I’ll be honest, there are definitely more stories that I do not care for than those that I do care for. That fact alone is perhaps the biggest reason I rated the book the way I did. As much as I like this book, there are stories that I just pushed through to get on to the next. Which I feel bad saying but that was my reading experience.
I didn’t skip any stories, I was tempted. But, that’s the thing with Cisneros’ short stories in this book, even if you are not particularly enjoying the story, there is still so much to learn from it. So in hindsight, still worth the read.
Some of the stories though, make reading the entire collection worth it. I can read them over and over and still enjoy them.
Cisneros makes strong statements in her writing. To think that a collection from 1991 can still be relatable to a woman in 2021 is incredible to me. That I can see this book being about my life and my experiences growing up at times while simultaneously seeing my mom or even my grandma‘s experiences is also incredible.
I greatly enjoyed the writing too. As an aspiring author myself, this book was very eye opening in that I realized this is the kind of writing I want to do one day.
I rate “Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros three stars. I went back an fort between three and four but at the end of the day those short stories that I was just going through the motions to get through make this an average read.
I would recommend this book to just about everyone. I think both women and men could learn a lot from this book. In my experience, I think that if you are a woman who has trouble labeling yourself as a feminist because of the negative connotations attached to the word, definitely read this book.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the collection:
I can’t be a mother. Not now maybe never. Not for me to choose, like I didn’t choose being female. Like I didn’t choose being an artist – it isn’t something you choose. It’s something you are, only I can’t explain it.
I don’t want to be a mother.
I wouldn’t mind being a father. At least a father could still be an artist, could love something instead of someone, and no one would call that selfish.”– Pg. 127 Little Miracles, Kept Promises/Sandra Cisneros
A huge thanks to everyone who reads my reviews, I truly appreciate it and I hope you check out this book.