Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan

I’ve reached the end of my Friday posts. Esperanza Rising marks the last of the content I wanted to save from my self-hosted site. I’ll now be posting only once a week again, as I’m almost finished writing Song 2 and I’d like to finish Song 3 before school ends. 

Esperanza_Rising_cover

Sometimes a book comes out that I really want to read, but for some reason or another I don’t get to it right away. It might get bumped down the tbr (to-be-read) list in favor of a more pressing review. Or the next book in a beloved series might come out that I gobble up right away. Pretty soon years have passed and I still haven’t read the book!

That’s what happened to Esperanza Rising. I’ve long heard what a wonderful book this is. I understood it portrayed some of the difficulties migrant workers faced in America early in the 20th Century. I knew it received all kinds of awards. And I’m familiar with Ms. Ryan’s beautiful writing style. This was a book I was certain I would enjoy. Well, I’ve finally read the book—thirteen years later!

So was it worth the wait? Definitely!

Esperanza Ortega is a young girl of privilege who suddenly loses everything when her father is killed and her two wicked uncles take possession of his property. She and her mother flee to America in hopes of a better life. Abuelita (grandmother), however, has been injured and must stay behind in Mexico. Abuelita sends Esperanza on her way with the beginnings of a crocheted blanket and the promise that they’ll be together again after the passing of many mountains and valleys.

In the migrant camps, Esperanza becomes fully aware of how far she’s fallen. She lives in tiny shack with many others. Her hands become rough and red. And her mother becomes deathly ill. She suffers the turmoil of workers’ strikes and the prejudice of the era. Yet through it all Esperanza learns and grows and keeps working on her blanket—ten stitches up, ten stitches down—a physical symbol of the life’s passing mountains and valleys.

And Esperanza suddenly realizes that Miguel, her long time friend and once her servant, is no longer on the opposite side of a social barrier. They are both poor. Together.

This is a remarkable story. It’s not an adrenaline rush or a nail-biter, just the amazing story of one child’s fortitude. And it’s written with the grace, beauty, and poetic metaphor of a master storyteller. It’s also based on the life of the author’s grandmother. One of my favorite books this year and highly, highly recommended.

(Now to read Holes, by Louis Sachar… Written two years before this one!)

8 thoughts on “Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan

  1. I have been drawn to the cover of this book many times, but have not read it. I’m gald to read your lovely review — but, 13 years on a TBR list. You have me beat hands down. This is the kind of book I’d enjoy. Thank you for sharing it on your blog.

    Understand why you need to cut back. Didn’t realize there would be a book 3 on Song. That’s great.

    1. Pat, you would love the beauty and the strength of this one. It is truly magnificent. Yeah, I didn’t get to it for so long because it was one of those titles I kept saying I had to read but it never actually got written on my list until I saw it featured somewhere. Erik’s blog, I think.

  2. I loved this book! I had it on my shelf for years but it took me a while to pick it up. I don’t get why Esperanza is floating on the cover, though. She doesn’t even look like she’s jumping.
    I still need to read Holes too. Hmm. It also took me a long time to pick up the Eragon series too. I read it last year. It was awesome.

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