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Cisneros’s first novel focuses on the life of Esperanza, a young Mexican American girl. The book is told through very short, interconnected stories about the lives of the people in Esperanza’s orbit on Mango Street and her neighborhood. Widely praised for its lyricism and clear-eyed view of young people’s lives, The House on Mango Street is both hugely respected and widely taught.
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya is an important title in Mexican American literature. Published in 1972, it tells the story of Antonio, or Tony, and his coming-of-age under Ultima, a curandera, or kind of Latin American shaman who acts as a mentor as he grows up in New Mexico in the 1940s. It has been taught as an important piece of multicultural literature in many grade levels across the United States.
First published in Toni Cade Bambara's debut short-story collection Gorilla, My Love in 1972, “The Lesson” is another narrative rooted in the life experiences of a young girl whose growing awareness of the injustices of the world is prompted by an interaction with her teacher.