Title: Esperanza Rising
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Illustrator: Jacket Art by Joe Cepeda
Genre: Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 262
Pub. Date: 2000
Summary: Ezperanza is living a privileged life on her family’s ranch in Mexico, preparing for her next birthday celebration, when he life changes dramatically. Her father is murdered. Her cruel uncles, Tío Luis and Tío Marco want Mama to marry Tío Luis or sell the house to him for much less than it is worth. Mama refuses and soon after the house burns down. Mama tells Tío Luis that she will marry him in order to stall him until they can escape from Mexico. Mama and Esperanza, along with their former servants Alfonso, Hortensia and Miguel, travel to California, but they must leave Esperanza’s grandmother, Abuelita, behind because she hurt her ankle in the fire. Esperanza’s has a hard time adjusting to her new living conditions and must learn to do many things she has never done before. After a dust storm and Mama gets very sick with Valley Fever. To pay for her medical bills, she begins doing adult work so she can pay Mama’s medical bills and save to bring Abuelita to California. A strike happens at the workplace, but she makes sure to stay out of it so she can save money. After an argument with Migel, she discovers he and the money she has been saving are gone. She is upset with him, but a few days later discovers that he has brought Abuelita to California. With Mama home from the hospital and Abuelita in California, she realizes that she has a lot to be thankful for even without the many material things she had before.
Critique: This piece of historical fiction falls into the category of a piece that was historically researched with imaginary characters. It is set in Mexico and California during the 1930s. It showcases the hardships and real life situations that many migrant workers had to face when they went to America to try and start a new life. Esperanza also learns about the discrimination Mexicans face in the United States. They must drive farther to go to a grocery store that does not discriminate against Mexicans. Isabel is not chosen to be Queen of the May, despite having the best grades in the class and Miguel must give up his job at the railroad to men from Oklahoma. Though all of these examples, the context definitely reflects the times and makes historical accuracy a priority. It also talks about many Mexian customs though the characters thoughts and plans including her upcoming quinceañera celebration that she is already looking forward to.
Artistic Response: Poetry
Haiku poems consist of 5 syllables in first line, 7 in second line and 5 again in last line.
Your Life transformed suddenly.
Hold on to the roses.
On this Flashlight readers page, students can interact with many different activities that connect with the book. They can rewrite scenes from the book, write a journal entry as if they were Esperanza, and read a Q&A with the author and more!
Here's a look at one of the scenes that they can help rewrite!