Monday, December 12, 2011
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Esperanza lives a privileged life on her family's ranch in Mexico. She receives many presents on her birthday, has beautiful dresses to wear, is waited on my servants, and is doted on by her loving parents. But her life changes drastically when her father is killed by bandits. When her uncle tries to blackmail her mother in marrying him in order to maintain their lifestyle, Esperanza and her mother flee their home and travel to America to start over. They end up in a farming camp and Esperanza has to work for the first time in her life even though she doesn't know how to do something as simple as sweep a floor. Slowly, Esperanza begins to adjust to her new life and becomes aware of just how lucky she is, especially compared to some of the people around her. This is a good story from Ryan about hope and overcoming obstacles. Esperanza is spoiled but likeable and her trials and growth seem realistic. There are also many things to learn about this time period but they are not presented in a heavy-handed way. For instance, I had never heard of Valley Fever nor was I aware of the extent of forced returns to Mexico.