The internationally acclaimed author of The House on Mango Street gives us a deeply moving tale of loss, grief, and healing: a lyrically told, richly illustrated fable for grown-ups about a woman’s search for a cat who goes missing in the wake of her mother’s death.
The word “orphan” might not seem to apply to a fifty-three-year-old woman. Yet this is exactly how Sandra feels as she finds herself motherless, alone like “a glove left behind at the bus station.” What just might save her is her search for someone else gone missing: Marie, the black-and-white cat of her friend, Roz, who ran off the day they arrived from Tacoma. As Sandra and Roz scour the streets of San Antonio, posting flyers and asking everywhere, “Have you seen Marie?” the pursuit of this one small creature takes on unexpected urgency and meaning. With full-color illustrations that bring this transformative quest to vivid life, Have You Seen Marie? showcases a beloved author’s storytelling magic, in a tale that reminds us how love, even when it goes astray, does not stay lost forever.
“This picture book for adults explores the ways in which grief lays us low, but also can bring us out to discover the strength of the communities we belong to. When Roz comes to visit Sandra after Sandra’s mother passes away, she brings her cat, Marie. Marie, in the way of so many cats, disappears the day she arrives, and Roz is desperate to find her again. The two women make flyers and Sandra reluctantly leaves her home to help Roz canvas the neighborhood, along the way meeting with others who grieve their own losses. With colorful drawings, Hernández brings the community alive, while Cisneros writes her heroine’s way through the discovery that there is a way to emerge from sadness into memory. And yes, there is a happy ending.” —Kathy Ward, Juneau Empire
“In Have You Seen Marie?, we are invited into a look of the pain Cisneros’s experiences upon losing her mother. . . . This loss does not allow her to see tomorrow because she cannot remove herself from the remorse of today. During her grieving process, Cisneros receives company from her friend Roz who brings along her cat, Marie. As the two women are rejoined, they find themselves without Marie. The story takes on a new sense of urgency as the two friends take to the streets to find the missing cat. As the search for Marie ensues, we are introduced to the colorful experience and occupants of San Antonio. Each of these introductions allows us to take part in the environment that exists to remind us that there is life all around us. . . . Cisneros’s gift of storytelling and Ester Hernández’s illustrations bring to life the story about death, grief, and the desire to move forward. This book is a wonderful gift to share with someone who is experiencing the pain of losing a loved one.” —Jasmine Colón, Modern Latina
“Award-winning Cisneros tells the story of her search for a runaway cat that parallels her journey through grief after the death of her mother. . . . This is a charmingly illustrated tale, rich in metaphor, and a solace to anyone who has felt the despair of losing someone dear.” —Diane Prokop, Portland Book Review
“Warmly comforting. . . . Cisneros has crafted a story that not only explores loss but also the journey back, creating a book that’s unique and uplifting. As Rosalind and the narrator search a beloved cat, Marie, they encounter a culturally rich and diverse community–each person with his or her own story and preoccupations, his or her own sadness. Each of these characters seems to understand that the search is about more than finding Marie. . . . Hernández’s illustrations are wonderfully detailed and capture the uniqueness of the neighborhood and the spirituality of the journey. . . . Cisneros and Hernández invite the reader to visually enjoy the story, to listen to the music of the words. In the afterword, Cisneros explores how she dealt with the death of her mother, and how the act of creation nourished her as she grieved.” —Matt Mendez, El Paso Times
“Have You Seen Marie? is the size of a lunchbox sandwich, but it offers lasting nourishment. The illustrated fable starts as a search for a friend’s missing cat, but quickly becomes a meditation on loss, a way for the main character, also named Sandra, to process her mother’s death. As Sandra and her friend Roz search San Antonio for Marie, questioning not just neighbors but also their pets and the neighborhood squirrels, Sandra goes on her own inner quest to make peace with her profound grief. Marie? is an orphan adventure tale for grown-ups with the soothing cadence of a children’s picture book. Like the best bedtime stories, it both honors the darkness around us and keeps the darkness at bay. . . . This book will surely be pressed into many bereft hands. Cisneros captures the experience of grief with moving and visceral clarity; lines like ‘Every day I woke up and felt like a glove left behind at the bus station’ take the reader straight into the heart of loss, while charming descriptions of San Antonio characters and the neighborhoods they inhabit keep us grounded in the world Cisneros knows so well. Hernández’s drawings fill in the blanks left by the vibrant but spare text. . . . Sandra’s neighbors remind her she is part of a community that understands loss, that can support her through loss. This reminder is one of the greatest gifts of the book: We may feel like abandoned gloves in our grief, but when we share our stories with one another, we realize we’re in the same lost-and-found box together.” —Gayle Brandeis, San Francisco Chronicle
“A magical journey. . . . A short, sweet, illustrated story about two friends searching for a lost cat. The women scour an eclectic neighborhood based on Cisneros’ own quarter of San Antonio, Texas, encountering a series of characters and small adventures. . . . Cisneros has folded powerful themes into this seemingly simple fable: confronting and accepting the loss of a loved one, the importance of community, the presence of spirituality in our lives and the way that imagination and art can illuminate reality. . . . The inhabitants we meet in Cisneros’ story are equally eclectic, and many have suffered their own losses. . . . They come to life not only in Cisneros’ poetic nuggets of prose, but in Ester Hernández’s sweetly realistic color illustrations. The book glows with Cisneros’ affection for [her] neighbors. [She] hopes the book will comfort others dealing with loss.” —Jordan Levin, The Miami Herald
“Cisneros is perhaps best-known for The House on Mango Street, a story about a young Latina who leaves behind her barrio for a chance at a better life and is considered a classic of Chicano literature. . . . Have You Seen Marie? [is] a tale about a woman’s search for a cat who goes missing in the wake of her mother’s death. It’s a fable for grieving grown-ups, [one] she hopes will be medicine for hearts broken from loss. . . . Artist Hernández represented the unique and colorful characters, all based on Cisneros’ neighbors. They make up the quirky King William district of San Antonio, Texas, where the story is based.” —Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
“In Have You Seen Marie?, the narrator searches for her lost cat in her neighborhood. But she’s not just looking for Marie, she’s looking a piece of herself. . . . The book’s weight comes as the narrator realizes that she also misses her mother, who passed away a few months earlier. Marie provides a unique glimpse into a quirky neighborhood and heartfelt look into grieving.” —The Hispanic Reader
“A real-life bedtime story for grownups, a gently soul-stirring meditation on the universality of grief, and the healing power of community and nature. . . . Have You Seen Marie?, filled with Cisneros’ poetic words and Hernández’s vibrant illustrations, is also a love letter to the quirky neighborhood where Cisneros has lived for 20 years. . . . Charming.” —Agnes Torres Al-Shibibi, The Seattle Times
“Cisneros, perhaps best known for The House on Mango Street, is an author whose descriptive, lyrical prose and expressive treatment of the Chicano cultural experience has catapulted [her] to nearly unparalleled fame. Her new release, Have You Seen Marie?—expressively wrought and full of picturesque illustrations of San Antonio and its colorful characters by visual artist Ester Hernández—is at its heart a parable for adults, whose themes of death, mourning, and loss take on new meaning when presented within a simple tale about a cat gone astray. In the process of writing it, [Cisneros] found healing in the aftermath of her own mother’s passing.” —Nina Terrero, NBC Latino
“Best-selling Cisneros chronicles a search for a runaway cat that turns into a way to work through grief and discover community. . . . The deliberately informal, rough-edged illustrations give a nice sense of Cisneros’ multicultural, bohemian neighborhood . . . [T]his warmhearted tale offers comfort to anyone coping with the loss of a loved one.” —Kirkus
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Sandra Cisneros is the author of two highly celebrated novels, The House on Mango Street and Caramelo. Her awards include National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the Lannan Literary Award, the American Book Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship. Other books include the story collection Woman Hollering Creek; two books of poetry; and two books of children's literature. Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages. Cisneros is the founder of the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral and Macondo Foundations, which serve creative writers.
Ester Hernández is an internationally acclaimed visual artist whose work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Library of Congress, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo in Mexico City. She lives in San Francisco.