Esperanza Rising by Pam Muños Ryan is a touching book about a young girl, Esperanza, born in Aguascalientes, Mexico — the pride and joy of her family ranch, El Rancho de Las Rosas. Nearing the grape picking season, and Esperanza’s thirteenth birthday, a sudden turn of events leads to Esperanza’s father’s death, which sends her whole life quickly tumbling upside down. Her power-obsessed uncles burn down her house and the grapevines and plan to take over their whole estate. Esperanza and her family are forced to flee, but her childhood friend and servant, sixteen-year-old Miguel, and his family tell Esperanza and her mom that they plan to go to the United States. To Miguel and his family, it is a land full of opportunity, so they offer to take them along. In almost an instant, Esperanza goes from being a rich daughter of a Hacienda owner in Mexico to being a poor plantation worker in the United States. She realizes that she is no longer a member of the rich upper class, and is forever in debt to Miguel and his family.
Esperanza Rising counts the story of Esperanza’s journey in adjusting to her new life style, cope with the loss of her father, become a strong figure in her small worker household, all while trying to see the world differently than she ever had before. She sees an injustice in the treatment of herself and her fellow workers, and sickness and poverty in her own household.
Esperanza is amazed by the small details in life and the joy of Miguel’s prima. She admires the selflessness she sees in the women she sees everyday, her mother included, and learns to find the beauty in the people she meets and the land she tills and discovers. In Pam Muños Ryan’s beautifully crafted writing, this award-winning book shows the beauty of Hispanic tradition and spirit. Esperanza’s story is a life-changing that you will never forget!
Filled with many relatable proverbs (like the one below), and life advice about the ups and downs of life, this novel is sure to bring a tear or two to your eyes.
“Aguàntate tantito y la fruta caerà en tu mano.”
“Wait a little while and the fruit will fall into your hand.”
– Mexican Proverb
For Esperanza, despite her hardship, the fruit did fall into her hand.The novel will remind you of the beautiful complex spirit of your Latina background.