Why this book is so lauded is beyond me.
It is a great idea, I'll grant it that. A book composed of anecdotes relating the story of a neighborhood and all the unique residents therein. After being told about the book, my imagination ran wild, dreaming up all sorts of eccentric characters and anecdotes, both poignant and humorous, with which the book might be filled.
I then went and actually read the book, which was my mistake. All my idle dreams were crushed by the pathetic writing that made up the vast majority of this book. Shallow and dull, no interesting ideas were explored, and no creativity displayed itself. Failing that, the book could at least have been entertaining. Sadly, this was not the case.
It gets two stars because of one chapter, toward the end, called "The Monkey Garden." This chapter was excellent. It was written beautifully and the characters seemed to come to life and flourish for these scant few pages, before returning to their previous, pallid state just in time for the next chapter. Cisneros seems to taunt us with a brilliant taste of what the whole book might have been, but wasn't.
Not really worth reading at all.