Esperanza Rising was published in the year 2000. This is the fictional story of Esperanza Ortega, who is a privileged girl growing up in Mexico on the farm of her family. However, her life was destroyed after the demise of her father. This caused Esperanza to sacrifice the social status and wealth of her family at the time she and her mother shifted to the United States for finding a better life, This young adult novel is inspired loosely by the own childhood of Pam Munoz Ryan, since she was brought up in the San Joaquin Valley of California. It is the most popular novel of Munoz Ryan and it has won various awards like the Jana Addams Children’s Book Award and Pura Belpre Award. Moreover, it is one of the top ten best books for the young adults, weekly best book of the publisher for the year, 100 Titles of the New York Library for sharing and reading and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
Esperanza Rising is a novel, which starts in el Rancho de las Rosas in Aguascalientes located in Mexico. The story focuses on the life of Esperanza, a 12-year old girl living happily with her family. Esperanza is extremely close to their father. Her father has strong associated with the land and therefore, he teaches Esperanza the way of listening to the heartbeat of the earth. However, one day before the thirteenth birthday of Esperanza, her finger was pricked on thorn, which is deemed to be a symbol of tough luck. In that night, Esperanza and her entire family got the terrible news that the bandits killed her father.
Her father has two stepbrothers named Tio Marco and Tio Luis and they were considered to be highly influential in Aguascalientes. After the death of the father of Esperanza, they attempted of manipulating the situation so that they could seize el Rancho de las Rosas. Tio Louis offered the mother of Esperanza to marry him and when her mother turned down the offer, she was threatened by Tio Louis. After the death of her father shortly, Esperanza woke up and found that her house was set on fire. All family members escaped; however, Abuelita hurt her ankle and the crops were burnt to a crisp. In the absence of home or any source of income, the mother of Esperanza agreed to the proposal of marrying of Tio Luis. Later on, she told Esperanza that she accepted the offer of Tio Luis only to divert him so that she could formulate plan of escaping to the United States along with her daughter.
Owing to poor financial condition, Esperanza struggled in adjusting to her new social status during the journey to the United States. After spending several days on the train, the group reached California. Juan, the brother of Alfonso, came to receive them. Juan and Josefina, his wife, have three children. Isabel is a bit younger compared to Esperanza and they have twin babies named Lupe and Pepe as well. Esperanza is shocked after she saw her new home, as the same is decorated poorly. It was a shared and cramped cabin in the camp of migrant workers.
Esperanza was taught by Isabel the ways of doing household chores. After Isabel goes to school, Esperanza needed to look after the babies and the entire house alone, while all other family members worked in the fields. Esperanza was not used to manual labour at any stage of time and hence, she struggled a lot to learn the same. In the meantime, she developed a rivalry with Marta, who is a young politically-minded woman organising the migrant workers in striving for better living conditions.
One day, a dust storm ravaged the Valley of San Joaquin. All family members returned home safely; however, the mother of Esperanza fell sick with Valley Fever. Owing to such fever, her mother was not able to work and as a result, she had to stay back in home causing Esperanza to start working in the field. The sickness became severe, which mandated the need of shifting her to the hospital, since she required medical attention. For paying the medical bills, Esperanza took additional work despite the danger of the upcoming strike.
The strike took place at the time of asparagus harvest. However, the officials of immigration broke it up and several strikers had been hauled way for departure. Esperanza found Marta at a later point of time hiding in a shed. Rather than turning Marta to the officials, Esperanza assisted Marta to escape the situation. In the new role in the form of head of the house, Esperanza experienced massive growth and she was able to maintain balance of her entire chores along with looking after Isabel as well as her babies.
Eventually, the mother of Esperanza returned from the hospital. The contentment of Esperanza did not last long at the time Miguel lost his mechanic job to the workers from Oklahoma willing to work at lower payments. This outraged Esperanza and later on, she fought with Miguel regarding the social status of the Mexican migrant workers in the United States. This caused Miguel to leave in the next morning. After his departure, Esperanza found that the money she was saving for bringing Abuelita to the United States was lost. This agigated Esperanza due to which she threw herself into work.
After certain days, Miguel returned with Abuelita to Calofornia by sneaking her out carefully from the eyes of Tio Luis. This seemed that Miguel took the money of Esperanza to perform the same task that she planned to perform by bringing Abuelita back to her again. One year after the death of her father, the life of Esperanza was filled with happiness again. This is because she found all members of her family together and she found delight once again.
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