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Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising

4.4 483
by Pam Munoz Ryan

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Esperanza thought she'd always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico--she'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of


Esperanza thought she'd always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico--she'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances--Mama's life, and her own, depend on it.

Editorial Reviews

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 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
This exciting, well-written historical novel is based on the true-life experiences of the author's grandmother, Esperanza Ortega. Thirteen-year-old Esperanza and her newly widowed mother are forced to leave their fairytale existence at beautiful Rancho de las Rosas in Mexico, to live and work in a migrant worker camp in the San Joaquin Valley during the Great Depression. Adjustments to her new life are difficult for Esperanza¾the harsh living conditions and hard labor are so different from her earlier life of privilege and wealth, especially after Mama becomes seriously ill with valley fever. But like the phoenix in her beloved grandma's story, Esperanza endures, "Rising again, with a new life ahead..." The author does a very good job of portraying the caring and solidarity, as well as the hardships, of Mexican-American labor camps of the era. An author's note is included. This book would be a great choice for a multicultural collection. 2000, Scholastic, $15.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Gisela Jernigan
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Inspired by her grandmother's immigration stories, Pamela Mu-oz Ryan (Scholastic 2000) offers valuable glimpses of the lives of Mexican-American farm workers during the Depression. When her father dies, 13-year-old Esperanza and her mother are forced to abandon their privileged lives and move to California. At first the proud girl is appalled that they must share a cramped row house and work at menial jobs, but when her mother becomes gravely ill, she learns the value of generous friends and her own inner resources. This coming-of-age story also looks at the economic and social issues of that era, and the author's note adds valuable factual information. Trini Alvarado's narration is adroit and melodic as she handles text that skillfully intersperses Spanish phrases and songs. Pairing this story with Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Cat Running (Delacorte, 1994) will give listeners broader insights into the difficulties of the 1930's. This recording is a solid choice for all elementary and middle school audiobook collections, and a necessity for libraries serving Spanish-speaking populations.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus 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)Sills, Leslie IN REAL LIFE: Six Women Photographers Holiday House (80 pp.) Oct. 15, 2000

From the Publisher
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, first 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 pearls of wisdom, and not until story's end will readers recognize how carefully they have been strung. Ages 9-14. (Oct.)
--Publishers Weekly, October 9, 2000--starred review

Moving from a Mexican ranch to the company labor camps of California, Ryan's lyrical new 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 story 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 th6me just before her father is killed. But Ryan writes a moving story in clear, poetic4anguage that children will sink into, and the books offers excellent opportunities for discussion and curriculum support. -Gillian Engberg
---Booklist, December 1, 2000

After a fire destroys their home and belongings, Esperanza (Hope) and her mother must flee their native Mexico to the United States with the help of their housekeeper and her family. The formerly wealthy Ortega women are now "peasants" and must work to survive. Despite the difficulties of life at the camp, Esperanza learns to work, to care for others, and to give rather than take. When her mother becomes ill and is hospitalized, Esperanza is alone except for the companionship of her friend and former servant Miguel, and his family. After a year, on the eve of Esperanza's fourteenth birthday, her beloved grandmother arrives from Mexico, Mama is released from the hospital and the little family is reunited. Now Esperanza is rising above circumstances, filled with dreams and possibilities. Numerous truths, lessons, Spanish terms, and symbols that include a crocheted blanket, rose cuttings, and a river

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Scholastic, Inc.
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Pam Munoz Ryan is the recipient of the NEA's Human and Civil Rights Award and the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award for multicultural literature. She has written more than thirty books which have garnered, among countless accolades, the Pura Belpre Medal, the Jane Addams Award, and the Schneider Family Award. Pam lives near San Diego. You can visit her at www.pammunozryan.com.

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Esperanza Rising 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 483 reviews.
Kelty Delaney More than 1 year ago
I read the book, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. It takes place in Aguascalientes, Mexico, 1924. This book starts off with six-year-old Esperanza and her Papa lying on the ground, pressing their ears to the earth. Papa said that if you lay still enough, you could feel its heart beating. He was right, Esperanza could her it.  All was well for Esperanza, she had a big house with servants for her every need, beautiful dresses and a family that loved her.  Things did not stay this way though. Six years later, two very large and sad tragedies occurred in a short period of time, which sent Esperanza and her mother to the United States in secrecy in search of work, something Esperanza had never done before. Esperanza found that instead of the fancy clothes she and her mother usually wore, she only had a few pieces of dirty clothing that had once belonged to someone else. Instead of a beautiful house, they shared a cabin without hot water with a family of five. They had each other and Esperanza learned that’s all she needed. In the winter months they put newspapers on the walls to keep the wind and winter cold out. Shortly after a big dust storm, Mama caught Valley Fever and became very sick. She has to be moved into a hospital and Esperanza became worried she will never see her again. She learns to work in the sheds with the older women to help pay for Mama’s medical bills.  Esperanza quickly discovers that Mexicans are discriminated against in the United States. The people they work for would gladly replace the Mexican workers with workers from Oklahoma, and they were willing to work for less money too. If she and the people around her lost their jobs, they wouldn’t have a place to live and no way to pay Mama’s medical bills. Soon a strike breaks out and the immigration program does not hesitate to remove any who are part of it and send them to Mexico, even if they have never been there before.  With so many obstacles to overcome Esperanza clings to the old life she had before leaving Mexico and thinks she is better than most of the people around her. I enjoyed the book, Esperanza Rising very much. It was a very interesting story and I learned a lot about Mexican discrimination. It taught me to be grateful for what I have around me because there are people who have less, but have greater minds like the people who worked in the Mexican labor camp. The mood changed a lot in the story and I enjoyed those ups and downs a lot, and I almost couldn’t put the book down. I would rate this book four stars out of five because I felt it was a little young for me, even though I still enjoyed it. I think it is a perfect book for girls ages nine to thirteen because Esperanza is twelve-years-old and has a young personality. I enjoyed reading Esperanza Rising and I hope people get as much out of it as I did. 
Christina-Burns87 More than 1 year ago
Esperanza is young girl of wealth and privilege in Mexico, but after her father is murdered on their family ranch. Esperanza and her mother flee to California, there they must work on a potato farm during the great depression. Life is hard and Esperanza mother become ill and Esperanza must speak up for the immigrant workers and their work conditions. This book also contains a slight mix of Spanish words and/or phases that are also translated and easy to comprehend. History teacher could collaborate with English/Language Arts teachers when reading this book, because the setting is during the American Great Depression and the Dust Bowl Era.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this in 5th grade. It was so good. Recomend it highly. Just as a reminder... is this historical fiction? Please review when read. PLEASE!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such an AMAZING book!!!!!!!! SO GET THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW!!! It talks about a 13 year old girl named Esperanza,and how her life was perfect! She had A LOT if servents! ( as u can see she's rich!) She also lived in Mexico, her dad had all the money! But in the 1930's, women can't own houses & land! ( just remmember that) So, something goes wrong!(i am not going to tell what happend) And they have to move to California! Then she becomes a servent! Now u have to read the rest of the book to know what has happend in the book! :) :) :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shelby Cyr's Book Review The book Esperanza Rising is by Pam Munoz Ryan. The book is about a girl named Esperanza who is a very wealthy girl who lives in Mexico until her father passes away on their ranch. This leads to her family moving to California where they can only get by working on a potato farm during the great depression. Their lives become very difficult and Esperanza's mother becomes very ill. During this time Esperanza feels the need to speak up for other immigrants who have come to work through the rough working conditions. The theme for this book is determination. I liked this book because it made you feel as if you were making the change that Esperanza was working towards for the immigrants. I like that Esperanza was inspired to change the society, and the conditions immigrants have to deal with. I learned throughout this book that even when times get rough you should still be inspired to make a change and better situations for people all around you. I learned that you need to have determination to make a positive difference. I would recommend this book to girls of all ages because it has a very interesting and inspiring story line that open your eyes to different aspects of life. Esperanza Rising is a very well written book with a good story line.
Lauren_Richards More than 1 year ago
Such a great book! Couldn't put it down! I would recommend this book for people of all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is awesome even for the people who hate books will love it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book great for all ages
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book because you just get to know the girl so well. You really put yourself in her shoes. After reading that book, I felt inspired to do more! This book is great for all ages! ( also look up the book " Out of My Mind" while you are at it.) I would guess that almost everyone will LOVE this book! Sincerely, Book-A-Holic13
LuvYA More than 1 year ago
I usually just read current YA titles, but when it was referred to in another book I read...I had to read it. A lot of my friends read ER during junior high, but I never did and I'm sorry I missed it for so long. This is a great book. I felt like I was reading a part of my history that I didn't even consider or know about. It totally reminded me of stories my relatives share at family gatherings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im reading this book in school and its soo good!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love esperanza rising in a way it ikind of sad but things get better and it turns out to be a really good book! It is also exiteing an a little bit scary so if your looking for a book like this i highly recamend it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this in fourth grade cried at the end. But didnt want it to end:(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As i was saying it has happynes,tradgety,struggles, and romance. Everything u need for a good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this for 6th grade and quite honestly it was interesting and had a pinch of sadness. Im not saying it isnt fantastic, it is, but not for kids under maybe 12 or 11. It can turn a non reader into a book worm. At least get the sample.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sooo good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its real good highly recommend. I would say a strong hearted determined book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 11 and love to read. I read this book in class, and it toched me. I loved this book so much Mockingjay02
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read it in ELA and i wish it had gone on FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!! BEST BOOK EVER read it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great book loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone who doesnt like it is a complete idiot
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was not that interesting to me. Mainly because i am not a fan of historical fiction and mostly prefer books like The Girl Who Could Fly and Call Me Hope. But, if you do like historical fiction , then you would probably love this story. It has a tiny bit of romance, life lessons, and a fantastic plot, but as i said before, it was mostly borring for me and did not make me want to read on. If you choose to read it i hope you like it more than i did!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well detailed i actually felt like i was in the book crying at the sad and happy moments in the book.I was FLABBERGASTED by the way the author described the sympathetic but, understanding story i recomend this to anybody who is looking for a book with juicy details in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt heart-broken when I read this book. Such a tragic ending. "You might as well face the truth Daphne, happy endings don't happen in real life." -from Daphne's Book by Mary Downing Hahn (PS, when I put Daphne in the quote, I couldn't take it out because when you quote somebody, you have to quote them exactly.)