Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan, is a story of Esperanza Ortega who lives with her family on El Rancho de las Rosas in Aguascalientes, Mexico. She is a privileged girl, with some money, but this does not get to her, as she is a loving person. When Esperanza was six years old, her father took her for a walk and told her to lie down in the field, and she could feel the heart of the valley. She did as she was told and felt what her father had said Then, the day before her 13th birthday, Esperanza's father is killed while working in the fields. Papa's older stepbrothers, Tio Marco and Tio Luis, come to help them through their time of need; however the true purpose for their staying comes clear when Luis announces that he wishes to marry Mama. Mama turns his proposal down. But after the uncles burn their house to the ground, the family realizes that they must leave Mexico Esperanza, her mother their driver and their mechanic emigrate to the U.S.,
where former ranch workers has helped them find jobs in the labor camps. Coming from a life of money and privileges where she didn't have to work, Esperanza is not prepared for the manual labor that she is forced into to live. She quickly learns household chores, though, and when her mother falls ill, she works packing produce until she makes enough money to bring her abuelita to the U.S. The book follows some of the actual goings on during the great depression era. The standards that the migrant workers were dealing with, the labor strikes, and the lack of acceptance of her and her family due to their past and the racism and hatred by the white immigrants from Oklahoma.
Ryan successfully uses true events of the time, such as the effects of the Mexican Revolution, the migration of workers from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl to California, and struggles with migrant workers and the US government.
The setting is very important to the book because is mirrors the life of Esperanza. At the beginning of the story she is happy and all is well as she lives on her fruitful farm in Mexico, where all is well. As the story moves on and life gets harder for the girl, so does the landscape. The time-period really helps to emphasize the struggles of Esperanza and her family, as most of America was suffering during that era.
My one question to Esperanza would be what she thinks the single strongest thing that kept her going was.