By Sandra Cisneros
Vintage Contemporaries, $14.95, 101 pages
No matter what age a daughter loses her mother, she still feels like an orphan and is correct. Have You Seen Marie? is a short story by Sandra Cisneros based on her search for her missing cat, Marie, while still in the throes of mourning for her mother. She journeys through the neighborhood, asking neighbors if they’ve seen Marie and reflecting on their sufferings from loss and grief. Ester Hernández, mourning her own mother, came to Cisneros’s neighborhood in San Antonio to illustrate the book with real people and places. Not only do her illustrations add depth to the prose, but some pieces could be standalone works of art.
“In Mexico they say when someone you love dies, a part of you dies with them. But they forget to mention that a part of them is born in you — not immediately, I’ve learned, but eventually, and gradually.”
In the afterword, Cisneros admits that people who’ve listened to her read from the book think she wrote it for children, but that she really wanted to write it for middle-aged people like her who have recently lost their mother. But grief and loss are struggles we all face at many different ages, and Cisneros’s story can be seen as appropriate for both children and adults.
Reviewed by Sarah Hutchins