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Esperanza Rising Hardcover – October 1, 2000

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439120411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439120418
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (582 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Told in a lyrical, fairy tale - like style, Ryan's (riding Freedom) robust novel set in 1930 captures a Mexican girl's fall from riches, her immigration to California and her growing awareness of class and ethnic tensions. Thirteen-year-old Esperanza Ortega and her family are part of Mexico's wealthy, land-owning class in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Her father is a generous and well-loved man who gives his servants land and housing. Early in the novel, bandits kill Esperanza's father, and her corrupt uncles threaten to usurp their home. Their servants help her and her mother flee to the United States, but they must leave Esperanza's beloved Abuelita (grandmother) behind until they can send for her. Ryan poetically conveys Esperanza's ties to the land by crafting her story to the rhythms of the seasons. Each chapter's title takes its name from the fruits Esperanza and her countrymen harvest, firs in Aguascalientes, then in California's San Joaquin Valley. Ryan fluidly juxtaposes world events (Mexico's post-revolution tensions, the arrival of Oklahoma's Dust Bowl victims and the struggles between the U.S. government and Mexican workers trying to organize) with one family's will to survive - while introducing readers to Spanish words and Mexican customs. Readers will be swept up by vivid descriptions of California dust storms or by the police crackdown on a labor strike ("The picket signs lay on the ground, discarded, and like a mass of marbles that had already been hit, the strikers scattered?"). Ryan delivers subtle metaphors via Abuelita's pearl's of wisdom, and not until story's end will readers recognize how carefully they have been strung. Ages 9-14. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9-Ryan uses the experiences of her own Mexican grandmother as the basis for this compelling story of immigration and assimilation, not only to a new country but also into a different social class. Esperanza's expectation that her 13th birthday will be celebrated with all the material pleasures and folk elements of her previous years is shattered when her father is murdered by bandits. His powerful stepbrothers then hold her mother as a social and economic hostage, wanting to force her remarriage to one of them, and go so far as to burn down the family home. Esperanza's mother then decides to join the cook and gardener and their son as they move to the United States and work in California's agricultural industry. They embark on a new way of life, away from the uncles, and Esperanza unwillingly enters a world where she is no longer a princess but a worker. Set against the multiethnic, labor-organizing era of the Depression, the story of Esperanza remaking herself is satisfyingly complete, including dire illness and a difficult romance. Except for the evil uncles, all of the characters are rounded, their motives genuine, with class issues honestly portrayed. Easy to booktalk, useful in classroom discussions, and accessible as pleasure reading, this well-written novel belongs in all collections.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

PAM Muñoz Ryan is the author of more that thirty books for young readers, including four beloved novels, Riding Freedom, Esperanza Rising, Becoming Naomi León, and Paint the Wind, which collectively have garnered, among countless accolades, the Pura Belpré Medal, the Jane Addams Award, and the Schneider Family Award. She lives in Southern California with her family. You can visit her at

Customer Reviews

Esperanza rising is a great story that shows how a person can overcome obstacles in their life.
JoLynn V
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan is a story about a young girl named Esparanza who lived during the Great Depression in Mexico.
I like that in this book there is always something big happening which makes you want to read it more.
Eliza Petry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Julia Shpak on December 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
He who falls today may rise tomorrow.
(Mexican Proverb, quoted from the book's opening)

This powerful and realistic novel is set in 1930's. The main character,Esperanza, is a wealthy young Mexican girl that has grown up on a ranch called El Rancho de las Rosas near Aguascalientes, Mexico. She is used to the care-free life of riches and privileges, surrounded by her loving parents, Ramona and Sixto Ortega, parties, dolls, servants, and silk dresses. But everything changes when one night, a day before Esperanza's 13th Birthday, her father is killed by the bandits.

Esperanza, her mother, and Abuelita (grandmother) find themselves in a very precarious position - they cannot own the ranch without Papa, a man, a head of the family. Espiranza's evil uncles take over the land, and one of them suggests that Ramona should get married to him. When Esperanza's mother refuses the proposal, their mansion gets set on fire at night, leaving them with nothing at all. Esperanza and her mother had no choice but to leave Mexico and flee to a migrate camp of agricultural work in California, leaving behind Abuelita and their riches and privileges. Instead, experiences of loss, poverty, separation, prejudice, humiliation and fear surround Esperanza on the way to her new life. She is no longer a princess but a worker. What's even more, her mother gets very sick, and Esperanza has to work hard to pay the hospital bills. Will she manage the long hours of work and months of separation from her mother and Abuelita? Will she find a way to rise from ashes and make a new life for herself?

Set against the multi-ethnic, labor-organizing era of the Depression, the story of Esperanza remaking herself is deeply touching and emotional.
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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Bibliotekaria on December 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Pam Munoz Ryan's ancestors lived this story, and she has done a great service to write it with such an authentic voice. She has presented a fictionalized account of her own grandmother's fall from wealth and privilege in the aftermath of the revolution in Mexico as she immigrated to the United States to work in a Mexican farm labor camp during the Great Depression. Esperanza, the young protagonist, experiences loss, poverty, separation, prejudice, humiliation and fear on the road to her ultimate rise from the ashes in the manner of the mythical phoenix. Ryan does an excellent job of presenting the dilemma and danger of early attempts to improve the working conditions of the laborer during this period. She points out in the author's notes the grave injustices incurred by the Mexican Deportation Act, which exceeded relocations of the Japanese-Americans during the 2nd World War and of the Native Americans of the previous century. Many of these issues of prejudice and injustice persist today. Adults who enjoy this wonderful children's book should be sure to read "Rain of Gold," by Villasenor.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
Esperanza Rising first takes place in Rancho de la Rosas in Mexico. The main character, Esperanza, is treated like a princess on the ranch. Everything is going well, until the night before Esperanza's father doesn't return home. Learning that her father was killed by bandits, Esperanza and her mother escape on a train that will take them to the United States of America. They find work on a farm in California with other Mexicans.

Wishing she were back home, Esperanza struggles to adapt to her new life. This is a big conflict that takes place in the story between Esperanza and herself. Not wanting to let go of her past and move ahead with her future, she doesn't try to fit in. After Esperanza's mother is put in the hospital, Esperanza finally works hard and tries to make friends. The story ends with Esperanza's mother coming home from the hospital and her knowing that everything will be alright.

This book was very entertaining to read. The author held my attention throughout the book because of all of the dramatic events that unfold. An example of this is when Esperanza's father dies. There is so much suspense in that chapter that I couldn't put the book down! When I read this book, I really felt as though I was right there beside Esperanza.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
There are many books and movies out there about young people and their families as they struggle to survive in Mexico and then in California when they decide to cast their lot with the American Dream...Esperanza has everything she could ever want or need on her father's El Rancho de las Rosas near Aguascalientes, Mexico, when he is killed by bandits in 1924. Esperanza and her mother must flee their ranch and her evil uncles, with the help of their loyal servants. She loses every privelege she had when she crosses the river to Southern California, where she must confront her own issues of classism and work to save her mother's life. Very exciting book! The friendship between Miguel. the son of her family's servants, helps Esperanza learn that they are equals in their newly adopted country. The author tells us that this is a fictionalized account of how her real abuelita came to the United States, which makes the story even more enjoyable. Can't wait to have my students read this book!
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