I began reading at the age of six and I can clearly remember the first book I ever read on my own. It was the Robert Munsch classic “I Love You Forever” and to this day it is still one of my favorite books. After learning how to read I would read anything I could get my hands on. It became a joke among the family and they all contributed to my personal library. At the age of 9, I found myself at a gathering with my parents and some family friends. I remember my mother was telling the adults about my love for reading and one of the ladies in particular was also an avid book reader. She began to question me about my favorite authors. At the time, I was really into The Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin and I absolutely LOVED anything by Roald Dahl and Beverly Cleary. The woman then began telling me about a book titled “Woman Hollering Creek”. She described the book as a collection of short stories by a Mexican-American female writer. Two things stuck in my young, impressionable mind: Sandra Cisneros is a woman and Mexican-American. I was intrigued and it just so happened that woman had a copy of Cisneros’s book on her. I was thrilled when she said she was gifting it to me and I hungrily began reading it. I vividly recall staying up that entire night until I read the entire thing from cover to cover.
Thinking back to when I was first introduced to the work of Sandra Cisneros, I was pleasantly surprised at her style of writing. It seemed as if she was writing about the people I grew up around and I was able to relate to the themes of her short stories. I further appreciated that she incorporated the Spanish language in her writing. I didn’t grow up reading, writing or speaking Spanish as fluently as I do now. In fact, it was her blend of writing in English and in Spanish that encouraged me to learn the mother tongue. Up until the age of 9, I had never known an author of books to be Hispanic and I feel that’s why I was so drawn to her books. Before being introduced to her work, I didn’t think a chubby, Hispanic girl from the Southside of San Antonio like myself could ever hope to become a writer. After I learned that Cisneros actually lived many years in San Antonio, it was game on. I was inspired to begin writing and thus began my obsession with writing short stories. I can admit that I very much copied Cisneros’s writing style because I wanted to be just like her: an accomplished Mexican-American woman author.
As a grown adult, I am still in awe of Sandra Cisneros for her written work as well as for her many accolades. Her first book “The House on Mango Street”, published in 1983, has sold over 6 million copies. To date, she’s been a recipient of The Texas Medal of the Arts, NEA fellowships for her written work, and a MacArthur fellowship. In 2016, she was awarded The National Medal of the Arts by our forever president, Barack Obama. She also holds several honorary doctorate degrees and international awards. Cisneros is also a huge supporter of her fellow writers. She is the founder of the Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation. Both of which, are dedicated to cultivating and furthering the careers of aspiring writers. Her contribution to la cultura Hispana is immeasurable and she makes me damn proud to be a Mexican American female writer. I still want to be just like her.
Thanks for reading!
Con mucho carino,