12-year-old Esperanza Ortega lived on a farm in Mexico. Her wealthy father owned a lot of land which he shared with their servants. He and was very generous and well-loved. It all changed when Esperanza’s father was murdered by bandits when he was in the fields. Later Esperanza’s uncles (a banker and the mayor of her home town) came and the banker said Esperanza’s mother (Mama) couldn’t own the land because she was a woman and he wanted her to marry him. Mama said “No”. Their house and stables burnt down and Mama felt like she had to now say “yes” to the proposal but instead they ran away to California, where the only place that they could go to was a Mexican work camp. Esperanza now had a lot to deal with, like her grandmother was left behind in Mexico, her mother fell sick and she has to work now but she doesn’t even know how to use a broom to sweep! Can Esperanza rise above it all?
I like how the author says that Esperanza Ortega was real (She was the author’s grandmother!)!! I really liked the story line and the Miguel character. I like Miguel because he is a good friend but he is also like most boys. Esperanza Rising won many awards including the Pura Belpre Medal, the Jane Addams Peace Award, an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults, and the Americas Award Honor Book. The copy I have has an AFTER WORDS bonus section at the end of the book which has things like an interview with the author (Pam Muñoz Ryan), two chapters from Ms. Muñoz Ryan’s book “Becoming Naomi León”, a recipe for a Mexican punch and how to make a yarn doll. I like how the story has funny sections even though the topic is pretty serious. Esperanza wasn’t the typical “rich bratty kid” she is very likeable and has a good attitude to keep trying. Scholastic has a neat website where you can learn more about Esperanza and her life. You can go there by clicking HERE!