Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Publisher: Blue Sky Press
Winner of the 2001 Pura Belpre Award, Esperanza Rising is a magical riches to rags story of Esperanza Ortega, a young girl growing up in Mexico. Esperanza’s father is a rich landowner and the life she leads is one of privilege unlike her friend Miguel the son of servants.
When Esperanza’s father is killed by bandits her evil and powerful uncles impose themselves on the property and on Esperanza’s mother. They are determined to keep the ranch and try to force Esperanza’s mother to marry one of the uncles. When she refuses, they set fire to the family home endangering everyone and forcing Esperanza and her mother to flee with the servants. They leave everything behind and start anew in the farm camps of the United States during the Depression.
While her mother handles her changed circumstances with dignity and grace, Esperanza has a hard time adjusting. The work in camps is hard, her life is so different and it’s hard for her to take. The other girls in the camp think she is spoiled but she does manage to make some friends.
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. It’s an amazing story of grace, honor, determination and hope.