This book is now considered to be part of the Chicana/o literary canon. Sandra Cisneros creates a fictional neighborhood centered around Esperanza, a little girl. Through her eyes, we read about gender issues, domestic violence, the politics of identity, and poverty.
The book, a collection of vignettes or sketches, was originally published in 1984 by Arte Público Press, a U.S. Latino/Hispanic press out of Houston, TX. It was then re-published in 1991 by Vintage Contemporaries. It is often read in high schools as the "token" Chicana/o text, alongside Bless Me, Ultima, another coming-of-age novel.
Literary scholars often focus on the metaliterary context: We are reading about a young writer, and it is important to have an example of a young Chicana who is not only literate, but who also produces her own writing. Also, it is often linked to Virgina Woolf's A Room of One's Own, because Esperanza wants her own safe space to write and live. In "More Room of Her Own," Jacqueline Doyle notes that Cisneros dedicates the book "A las Mujeres/To the Women," and Cisneros expands the white feminist work of Woolf to include issues of culture, class and community (6).
The novella is semi-autobiographical, because it is set in Chicago, where Cisneros grew up.