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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn a number of Spanish words and a great deal about the lives of migrant farmworkers during the 1930s. In the author's afterward, Munoz Ryan discusses more history, including the Deportation Act of 1929 that "gave counties the power to send great numbers of Mexicans back to Mexico," regardless of their citizenship. Readers will also be introduced to strikes, discrimination, and more.
Esperanza learns to adjust to a more difficult life in California -- and to sacrifice -- but also remembers to keep hope alive as she begins to work for a new future in America.
Positive Role Models
The characters in Esperanza Rising are almost all completely kind, wise, and loving. Even a farmworker that Esperanza initially doesn't like turns out to have a sympathetic cause -- and Esperanza goes out of her way to help her. The author is careful not to take sides with political issues, such as worker's strikes, letting readers to see why workers would (and would not) want to participate.
Violence & Scariness
Esperanza's father is killed by bandits in Mexico and her uncle sets fire to her house and family ranch. Later, a striking farmworker throws a rock at another worker's head.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Esperanza's uncle tries to pressure her widowed mother to marry him. Also, there is a connection between Esperanza and Miguel, a former family servant. They hold hands at the end, but there's nothing explicitly romantic about their bond.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Esperanza Rising is an award-winning work of historical fiction that chronicles the life a Mexican migrant farmworker in the 1930s. In the book's beginning, Esperanza's wealthy father is killed by bandits in Mexico; then, a scheming uncle sets fire to her house and family ranch in order to pressure her widowed mother to marry him. Fleeing to California, Esperanza tries to adjust to the cramped, exhausting life of a farmworker. Thanks to a supportive family and network of friends, she keeps hope alive and begins to work for a new future. Readers will learn a number of Spanish words and about the lives of migrant farm workers during the 1930s as characters deal with strikes, discrimination, harsh living conditions, and more. There's an audiobook English edition narrated by Trini Alvarado and a Spanish edition narrated by Ruth Livier.
Is It Any Good?
This is a beautiful book that remains educational and inspirational more than a decade after its publication. Readers will sympathize with Esperanza, who must learn to work hard after living a life of luxury -- but more than that, they will be amazed by the strength she shows as she adjusts to the difficult life of a migrant farmworker. Eventualy, she begins to create her own dream for her life in California. Her story, told with Spanish expertly woven in with the English, may inspire readers to learn about their own family's immigration to America, the plight of farmworkers in the 1930s -- as well as the struggles of farm families living in America today.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.