Esperanza Rising
by Ryan, Pam Muñoz






Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.





Pam Muñoz Ryan is the recipient of the Newbery Honor Medal and the Kirkus Prize for her New York Times bestselling novel, Echo, as well as the NEA's Human and Civil Rights Award and the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award for multicultural literature for her body of work. She has written more than thirty books for young readers. Her celebrated novels, Echo, Esperanza Rising, The Dreamer, Riding Freedom, Becoming Naomi Léon, and Paint the Wind, have received countless accolades, among them two Pura Belpré Awards, a NAPPA Gold Award, a Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and two Americas Awards. Her acclaimed picture books include Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride and When Marian Sang, both illustrated by Brian Selznick, and Tony Baloney, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, as well as a beginning reader series featuring Tony Baloney. Ryan lives near San Diego, CA with her family.





Gr. 5-8. Moving from a Mexican ranch to the company labor camps of California, Ryan's lyrical novel manages the contradictory: a story of migration and movement deeply rooted in the earth. When 14-year-old Esperanza's father is killed, she and her mother must emigrate to the U.S., where a family of former ranch workers has helped them find jobs in the agricultural labor camps. Coming from such privilege, Esperanza is ill prepared for the hard work and difficult conditions she now faces. She quickly learns household chores, though, and when her mother falls ill, she works packing produce until she makes enough money to bring her beloved abuelita to the U.S.. Set during the Great Depression, the story weaves cultural, economic, and political unrest into Esperanza's poignant tale of growing up: she witnesses strikes, government sweeps, and deep injustice while finding strength and love in her family and romance with a childhood friend. The symbolism is heavy-handed, as when Esperanza ominously pricks her finger on a rose thorne just before her father is killed. But Ryan writes movingly in clear, poetic language that children will sink into, and the books offers excellent opportunities for discussion and curriculum support. -Gillian Engberg Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews





The author of Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride (1999) and Riding Freedom (1997) again approaches historical fiction, this time using her own grandmother as source material. In 1930, Esperanza lives a privileged life on a ranch in Aguascalientes, Mexico. But when her father dies, the post-Revolutionary culture and politics force her to leave with her mother for California. Now they are indebted to the family who previously worked for them, for securing them work on a farm in the San Joaquin valley. Esperanza balks at her new situation, but eventually becomes as accustomed to it as she was in her previous home, and comes to realize that she is still relatively privileged to be on a year-round farm with a strong community. She sees migrant workers forced from their jobs by families arriving from the Dust Bowl, and camps of strikers-many of them US citizens-deported in the "voluntary repatriation" that sent at least 450,000 Mexicans and Mexican-Americans back to Mexico in the early 1930s. Ryan's narrative has an epic tone, characters that develop little and predictably, and a romantic patina that often undercuts the harshness of her story. But her style is engaging, her characters appealing, and her story is one that-though a deep-rooted part of the history of California, the Depression, and thus the nation-is little heard in children's fiction. It bears telling to a wider audience. (author's note) (Fiction. 9-15) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews






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