By Pam Munoz Ryan
Genre: MG/YA historical fiction
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.
The aspects I love about this book:
Why am I writing a review for a book that’s not romance? (When I write romance?) Okay, so there’s no rule that says I have to write only romance book reviews. I did review A time to Die and a Time to Speak…both not primarily romance novels. (Still swooning over Solomon and Parvin. “bats eyes”
I chose to write a review for Esperanza rising because I tend to pinpoint and pull out the romantic arc in everything I read (and watch), and I enjoyed this story for it’s romantic arc.
Most reviews of this book praise it’s depiction of the Great Depression, and of the lives of immigrants and those who lived and worked in the California labor camps during the Depression. Author Pam Ryan did a fabulous job with her depiction of the immigration of Esperanza and her family. The journey that she must undertake to get to California is rather harrowing and I felt their anxiety and desperation, as well as the despair at having lost everything, and the fear of the unknown.
Aside from that, I personally loved this book for it’s simple, subtle, unfinished love story.
When Esperanza is forced to flee to California with her mother, she’s traveling with her family’s former servants, including a young teenage boy. In the beginning you learn that he had affections for her, but she basically put him off because of their class differences.
For so long, they had worked under her and her family. Now, after she loses everything in a horrible string of tragic events, they’re equals, essentially. But it takes Esperanza a long time to come to grips with this. Though the author doesn’t tell us what this young man is thinking or feeling, she doesn’t have to! His actions speak louder than any words could. His actions display how much he cares about Esperanza and her family, even though they were in charge of him for so long. I was sad when the story ended, and wanted their ‘relationship’ to continue, but then I remembered it’s supposed to be short on purpose. Ah well.
There’s something about secondary characters that pull me deeper into the story. I always find myself wanting to know more about those secondary characters’ thoughts and feelings. The same thing happened in A Time to Speak with Solomon, and in the Yesterday Series, with Wayne. Ah, Wayne….
If you enjoy reading historical fiction, or anything to do with immigration, you’ll love this quick read. Even my husband liked it and he’s into Epic 600-700 page Fantasies…though he’s a history nerd, so there’s that.