Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan
Publisher: New York : Scholastic Press, 2000.
Esperanza has never known what it’s like to be poor, or even sad. Until the night before she turns 13. After the tragic death of her father, and plans by her corrupt uncles to take over their property, Esperanza and her mother decide to travel with their former servants to America to start a new life. Unfortunately for Esperanza, this means learning not only how to live in a new place, but having to work for the first time in her life. The reader watches as Esperanza learns to survive and that while life might not be what she grew up expecting it would be, so long as she has family and friends things are ok.
I found Esperanza rising to be very well written. It addresses hot topics like racism and workers rights without being preachy or taking a side. It is set during the Dust Bowl and while it doesn’t delve deeply into the reasons behind it, it does talk about the problem of being underpaid with a large available workforce and the differing treatment of workers of different nationalities. The book is well written, and both boys and girls will enjoy the uplifting way the book is written.
Reading level: 6th Grade
Similar Books: Riding Freedom
Personal thoughts- A good story about migrant workers
Subjects/themes- Migrant workers, workers rights, loss, family
Awards- Pura Belpré Award
Esperanza- privilege daughter of a farmer who has to learn to take care of her
family after her father’s death
Miguel- son of her father’s worker who is her friend and brings her Abuelita to
Marta- girl who makes fun of Esperanza for her privileged upbringing while she organizes strikes for workers rights, and who learns that someone’s background is not the only thing that makes someone who they are
Annotation: It was supposed to be a wonderful new life in America, but instead Esperanza found that you have to build that sort of thing, it doesn’t just come from nowhere.