Esperanza Risingby Pam Munoz Ryan
Moving from a Mexican ranch to the company labor camps of California, Ryan's lyrical novel manages the contradictory: a story of migration and movement deeply rooted in the earth. When 14-year-old Esperanza's father is killed, she and her mother must emigrate to the U.S., where a family of former ranch workers has helped them find jobs in the agricultural labor camps. Coming from such privilege, Esperanza is ill prepared for the hard work and difficult conditions she now faces. She quickly learns household chores, though, and when her mother falls ill, she works packing produce until she makes enough money to bring her beloved abuelita to the U.S.. Set during the Great Depression, the story weaves cultural, economic, and political unrest into Esperanza's poignant tale of growing up: she witnesses strikes, government sweeps, and deep injustice while finding strength and love in her family and romance with a childhood friend. The symbolism is heavy-handed, as when Esperanza ominously pricks her finger on a rose thorne just before her father is killed. But Ryan writes movingly in clear, poetic language that children will sink into, and the books offers excellent opportunities for discussion and curriculum support.
About the Author
Born and raised in California's San Joaquin Valley, Pam Muñoz Ryan comes from a background that is an ethnic mix of Spanish, Mexican, Basque, Italian, and Oklahoman. She has written books about Mexican migrant workers, the American Wild West, daring women, historic concerts, and mice and beans. "That's part of the enchantment of writing and creating characters - the variety," Ryan says. "I enjoy that there are many diverse parts to my job." Ryan is the author of more than 25 books for young readers, including the multi-award-winning Esperanza Rising, which has sold more than two million copies. When she's not traveling in the U.S. and abroad to promote her work, Ryan lives in north San Diego County near the Pacific Ocean with her husband. Her four grown children frequently come and go, and her two dogs, Buddy and Sammie, keep her company while she works. For more information about Pam Muñoz Ryan.