The book in two sentences: In Woman Hollering Creek, Sandra Cisneros weaves 22 tales of passion, pain, and longing that describe life along the U.S.-Mexico border. They take place in different times and follow different people on different paths, but all are centered around the identities and experiences of Chican@ and indigenous womxn.

Rating: 🌴 Island collection

Long story short (spoilers): What I enjoyed most about this collection was the writing. Cisneros’ prose is lyrical and enchanting. She often lapses into these long, run-on sentences, where one word just flows into the next, and like a wave they slowly draw you in before crashing into you.

While a couple of the stories are forgettable, the majority are engaging and compelling. Each has a distinct tone and style, so that no two read the same. Like a painter’s portfolio, this collection does a good job of showcasing the diverse stories Cisneros can tell and the voices she can channel.

In terms of content, several meaningful themes resurfaced throughout the book, two of which stood out to me in particular:

  • Womxn (re)claim identity. In most of the media we consume, womxn are often defined by their relationship to men: as mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters. Cisneros looks beyond this simplistic reduction and gives us womxn who are flawed and angry and passionate and filled with energy. Womxn who are mistresses and mothers; confident and desperate; terrified and charming. It made me think: how do I make space for my (sometimes contradictory) identities?
  • Naming power. One of my favorite quotes in this book is in the story “Never Marry a Mexican”. The protagonist says, “Making the world look at you from my eyes. And if that’s not power, what is?” Convincing others to see what you see is a powerful thing indeed.

I really enjoyed this collection and look forward to reading more of Cisneros’ work. Do you have a favorite? Comment below to share!