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Esperanza Rising (McDougal Littell Library) Paperback – September 27, 2016
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From Publishers Weekly
"With a hint of magical realism, this robust novel set in 1930 captures a Mexican girl's fall from riches and her immigration to California," said PW in our Best Books citation. Ages 8-12. (June)
Copyright 2002 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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Now, Esperanza, her mother Ramona, and Abuelita had a dilemma and a tough decision to make. Since her father – the head of the household – was no longer living and able to take care of them, Esperanza’s mother could not take his place, so they only had two options; Ramona could choose to stay and marry her husband’s evil, money-hungry brother, or they could take a risk, and go with Hortensia, Alfonso, and their son Miguel to America, the land of opportunity. In hopes to give themselves a better life than what they would have if they stayed in Mexico, Esperanza and her mother make the long and dangerous journey to America with their friends, leaving behind Abuelita because she was too weak. They promised each other that they would be reunited again soon.
Coming to America is a major change from what Esperanza and her mother are used to, and it proves to be especially hard on Esperanza. Now she is an equal to the servants she once had, working long hours with little pay. When her mother suddenly becomes ill with a life-threatening disease, Esperanza shows everyone the woman she is becoming, working hard despite her frustrations and challenges. She holds onto hope (the meaning of her name), saving up enough money to bring Abuelita home and to pay her mother’s steadily rising medical bills. With the story being set in the Depression era, this is not an easy task, especially for someone of Esperanza’s age. “He who falls today may rise tomorrow” is a Mexican proverb quoted at the beginning of the book, and its meaning rings true to the story of Esperanza. Esperanza Rising is the coming-of-age story of a girl who loses practically everything and everyone she loves, and just when she reaches her lowest point, she finds a way to rise again, overcome her obstacles, and find joy and happiness in her new home with the people she cares most about.
Pam Muñoz Ryan writes the story from the perspective of Esperanza, and the book has a wise and poetic but still light style to it, almost as though the reader is right there maturing alongside Esperanza; Ryan’s writing draws the reader in well. The book also offers an insightful look inside the Hispanic culture, with references and translations throughout the book. In the “About the Author” section at the end of the book, Pam Muñoz Ryan states that her grandmother especially influenced her writing, and that Esperanza Rising is based on her immigration story.
A Pura Belpré Award Winner, Esperanza Rising is a well-written story of kindness and determination that can be enjoyed by an audience of all ages. From the time it starts, it is hard to put down and you will never want it to end – a definite page-turner! I would highly recommend this book to anyone for pleasure or as an educational tool, as it offers a wonderful and thoughtful look inside a different culture and time period.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a wonderful, heartfelt story that grips at your emotions of despair, fear, determination, and hope. The story begins with a young girl named Esperanza who lives in Mexico on a large vineyard with her mother, father, grandmother, and servants in the year 1930. The story takes place after the Mexican Revolution when many of the poorer people were still very angry with the rich land owners. Esperanza is very wealthy and has not a care in the world more than planning her Quinceanera fiesta which won’t occur for another two years. “They still had two more years to wait, but so much to discuss -- the beautiful white gowns they would wear, the big celebrations where they would be presented, and the sons of the richest families who would dance with them” (7). She has many dresses, wonderful food, and does not have to bother with household chores like sweeping or cleaning the house. All of that changes in an instant, however, when a terrible event occurs that forces her mother and Esperanza to immigrate to America. They, along with their former servants, catch the train to California, hoping to start a new life.
Esperanza finds herself suddenly poor and without the luxuries in which she had grown so accustomed. “How could she be happy or grateful when she had never been more miserable in her life?” (105). Her mother and her go to work on a farm in the San Joaquin valley where they have many difficult times. Esperanza has trouble adjusting to a life where she is not treated as royalty, and many people in the camp give her strife because of this. “‘Just so you know. This isn’t Mexico. No one will be waiting on you here’” (99). Through the ups and downs in the camp however, Esperanza learns that her loved ones are the only thing she really needs and she takes the difficult times in stride. She grows as a person and finds herself along the way.
Overall, I felt that this book was very well written and a wonderful story about a girl who goes from riches to rags. This book would be a wonderful addition to any home or classroom library and could be used to promote historical and cross cultural understanding. The novel deals with many issues, including racism and social class status, which are described in a way that allows children to begin to understand them. Esperanza believes that she is better than the others in the camp for a long time. She does not like the conditions of the camp because she thinks that she should not live as a poor person. “Esperanza felt anger crawling up her throat. ‘Mama, we are living like horses! How can you sing? We don’t even have a room to call our own’” (102). Throughout the story, she grows and realizes the error of her thoughts. This is something that I really enjoyed about the novel. I think that viewing the world through Esperanza’s eyes make readers realize how sheltered she was and how ignorant at times she is, while still maintaining a sense of understanding and empathy for her as well.
I also really enjoyed the language used in the novel. The author uses Spanish words many times throughout the story, and in the title of each chapter, and follows the with the English equivalent. This in and of itself allows the reader to better immerse themselves in the story and culture. The reader can learn some Spanish words while reading this story, which is wonderful for children! The writing really helps to bring across a cross cultural understanding, and I think that is one of the best things about this novel. Overall, I would highly recommend this book, both for parents and educators. I also would like to recommend the audio book, as I think it was extremely well done!
Esperanza is from Mexico, living the good life she goes to private school has a BEAUTIFUL home she had many servants. Until one day ( the day before her 13th birthday) her father died. Her uncle from her dads side proposed to Esperanza's mother, obviously she declined therefor he was "forced" to threaten her. Esperanza her mother and the servants carefully made their way to the train without anyone knowing and made their way to California. Esperanza Had to get through a LOT of tough times that came with this new life. She learned many new things but the most Valuable was to love no matter what.. and to have patience. This book defenetly kept me on my toes! Thanks for the wonderful book.