Sunday, November 19, 2017

*Review* Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Genre: Middle Grade/Non-fiction
Published: September 27, 2002
Pages: 304

Esperanza thought she'd always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico--she'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances--Mama's life, and her own, depend on it.

"I am poor, but I am rich. I have my children, I have a garden with roses, and I have my faith and the memories of those who have gone before me. What more is there?"

I read this during Hispanic Heritage month for the Platypire Diversity Challenge because it was available at my library with no hold… but I didn’t review it then, because life hates me. And I’m super behind on reviews. But I’m trying to catch up - and that’s what matters in life.

This may be a book for younger kids, but it’s got some pretty heavy topics. And I think the way a lot of those were handled was fantastic. It explains things in a way that I feel works well with middle schoolers, and at the same time it’s something really anyone who reads can be empathetic to the struggles of Esperanza. Plus there’s a lot of reality in this, so it’s really a great way to introduce children to this topic.

Esperanza starts the story as upper class with very little actual worries and she goes through so much. Her parent’s lives are threatened, her home is threatened, her entire livelihood is changed, and she has to go through a major life change multiple times in a short period. It’s really a wonder how she manages to handle everything. I think that really helped me feel a stronger connection with her as a character.

The real props of this story need to go to Esperanza’s mother though. The things that woman goes through… it’s really only the background of the whole book though, but gawd damn. I’d want to read this whole thing over again from her perspective if I was given the opportunity.

So… I feel this whole thing is a great way to introduce children to how migrant camps were back in the 1930s. And it especially is fantastic because it’s based on the story of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s actual grandmother. This is going to be something I’ll have my child read when he’s a little older.

3.2 and 6/5th platypires - Joood - Hooligan

Pam Muñoz Ryan is the author of the New York Times Best Seller, ECHO, a 2016 Newbery Honor Book, and winner of the Kirkus Prize. She has written over forty books for young people—picture books, early readers, and middle grade and young adult novels. She the author recipient of the NEA's Human and Civil Rights Award, the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, the Willa Cather Award, the Pura Belpré medal, the PEN USA award, and many others. Her novels include Esperanza Rising, Riding Freedom, Becoming Naomi León, Paint the Wind, The Dreamer, and Echo. She was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, holds a bachelor's and master's degree from San Diego State University and lives in north San Diego county with her family.

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