Tag Archives: Mexico

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

17 Mar

Ryan’s story is full of vivid imagery and painful lessons. It is a story about Esperanza, a privileged girl living in Mexico during the Great Depression. After Esperanza’s father is murdered by bandits, Tio Louis offers to buy her home, but does not offer a fair price. Esperanza’s other refuses to sell and the whole property including the vineyards is set on fire and burns to the ground. Tio Louis then offers his hand in marriage to Esperanza’s mother. Esperanza’s mother and Esperanza prepare to flee Mexico with their servants and head to California to begin a new life. This is where Esperanza’s story really begins. During one episode, Esperanza is taught how to prepare potatoes for planting. Esperanza’s mother becomes ill with valley fever and Esperanza has to survive and work to pay for her mother’s care. During this time Miguel, her friend steals all of her money and vanishes in to thin air. Miguel does eventually resurface retrieving Esperanza’s grandmother from Mexico. This is a deep story about survival, injustice and what it truly means to live.

Winner of the Pura Belpre award

Suggested Library Activity:

Have students research this time period. Have them imagine what it would be like to be children living during this time. Create a news broadcast and interview someone from this time (another student can act a character out). What kinds of questions would they ask someone from this time period?

Bibliographic Citation:

Ryan, Pam Munoz. (2008). Esperanza rising. New York: Scholastic.

Additional Book Reviews:

“Esperanza Rising¬†is a very thought provoking book about the plight of those seeking seasonal employment on the big farms in California during the Great Depression. Esperanza learns the value of hard work and after a while overcomes her selfish ways…”
Wednesday, B. (2010, May 19). Book Review: Esperanza Rising.


Horn Book starred (Spring 2001)

In this poignant look at the realities of immigration, thirteen-year-old Esperanza, daughter of an affluent Mexican rancher, is forced to trade fancy dolls and dresses for hard work and ill-fitting hand-me-downs after her beloved father dies. Laboring in the United States, picking grapes on someone else’s land for pennies an hour, Esperanza is transformed into someone who can take care of herself and others.