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inZone Book: Esperanza Rising

inZone Book: Esperanza Rising

by Pam Munoz Ryan

In this novel, Esperanza lives like a queen on her family's ranch until her father's death forces her to work in the fields of California. Has she lost everything, or will she find the strength to rise above her problems?


In this novel, Esperanza lives like a queen on her family's ranch until her father's death forces her to work in the fields of California. Has she lost everything, or will she find the strength to rise above her problems?

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

Praise for Esperanza Rising:
*“Told in a lyrical, fairy tale-like style . . . Readers will be swept up.” --Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Ryan writes a moving story in clear, poetic language that children will sink into, and the books offers excellent opportunities for discussion and curriculum support.” --Booklist

Product Details

Cengage Learning
Publication date:
Reader's Workshop Series
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Pam Munoz Ryan grew up in the San Joaquin Valley of California and now lives with her family near San Diego.  She based this story on the experiences of her maternal grandmother whose privileged life in Mexico was altered dramatically when she immigrated to the United States and went to work in a company-owned farm labor camp.  She is the author of the acclaimed Riding Freedom and Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, an ALA Notable Children's Book.

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