Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza is born on a beautiful ranch in Mexico and lives an idyllic life surrounded by family, servants, a lovely home and gardens, and many fancy dresses. When a horrible tragedy strikes Esperanza’s family, she is forced to leave her grandmother and everything she loves to escape with her mother and sneak into the United States during the Great Depression. There they find work as farm laborers, a life unimaginably different from the one she has left. The work is hard, there is little money, less respect, and no lovely home, no gardens, and no fancy dresses.
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.
An inspiring story of struggle, hardship, and hope, this is my favorite kind of story. There are glimpses into the struggles of the Great Depression, California History and the labor movement. There are themes of empathy, race relations, prejudice, rights, family, choices, hope, attitude, work, pride, and kindness. But it’s never didactic or heavy. Instead, the plot and characters sweep you along on a marvelous journey and everything else is just icing on la tarta.