House of Houses

House of Houses cover
Awards
  • Southwest Book Award, Border Regional Library Association, 1997
  • Premio Aztlán Literature Award, 1997
 

Previous covers:

House of Houses cover House of Houses House of Houses
2017 20th anniversary

House of Houses
Re-issued by University of Arizona Press, October 2008
Download a hi-res jpeg of the book jacket.

A family memoir told in the voices of ancestors, this book is about oppression and survival and sometimes triumph as "any book about a Mexican American family must be." Mora’s house of houses is large, imagined, traditional, a refuge from the desert’s heat, where the generations of her family, living and dead, mingle through the months of a single year.

Read an interview with Pat about the book from Soundings: Voices from the Gaps.

Questions for Exploration - Questions for your personal reflection or to enjoy with your book group or class.

Highlighted Reviews
"In [House of Houses] a twist on the Day of the Dead tradition … it is the cemetery dwellers who feed the author, a woman ravenous for every crumb of her past … The men of the household are adored, feared, and revered, but it is the women who hold things together; their worries, quarrels, prayers, recipes, gardens and fierce love for the children lend House of Houses its rich texture."—Edie Jarolim, The New York Times Book Review

"Pat Mora’s richly sensual family memoir, House of Houses, is a textual feast designed to summon her ancestors’ spirits to an imagined house hovering over the Southwestern desert between El Paso and Santa Fe--a conflation of memory and wish blending, the microscopic sensuality of Diane Ackerman’s work with the Jungian approach of Clarissa Pinkola Estes … House of Houses is [a] kind of regenerative act, a summoning of the powerful and necessary spirits, and an eloquent bearer of the old truth that it is through the senses that we apprehend love."—Janet Peery, The Washington Post Book World

Read more reviews show

Questions for Exploration
Questions for your personal reflection or to enjoy with your book group or class.

  1. In what ways is House of Houses like and unlike other memoirs you've read?
  2. Why do you think memoirs have become such a popular genre?
  3. Name the person you connected to most in the book and describe the reasons why.
  4. The author asks "Why do certain events become central memories, part of the core life story we create about ourselves?" (page 24) How would you answer?
  5. Spanish words and phrases are used throughout the book. How does this affect your reading and understanding of the memoir?
  6. How is your family like and unlike the Mora family?
  7. Look through family photographs taken before you were born. Choose one and write a page about it. Would you like to share your piece with your reading group? A family member or friend?
  8. The author refers to her childhood home as the "house of houses." What does she mean? Would you describe your childhood home as your "house of houses"? If not, what three or four words would you use to capture your feelings?
  9. What humorous scene and sad scene most appealed to you? Why?
  10. The family stories in this memoir are organized through different seasons or rhythms - the rhythms of the garden, the church liturgy, the family. What seasons or rhythms would you use to organize your family's stories?

If you'd like to share your answers, we'd love to read them.