This post contains affiliate links.  As I mentioned before, I’m trying to include more multi-cultural books in Bookworm’s curriculum. A few weeks ago, I had him read Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan.  If you have kids who are in 5th or 6th grade on up, they’ll likely enjoy this book.  I know I did.

About Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza lives in Mexico and has a privileged upbringing.  Her father owns a ranch, and they have great success with grape harvests.  Esperanza is spoiled and doesn’t have to work.  She is cherished by both of her parents as well as the servants who take care of the family.

However, their good life comes to a shocking end when Esperanza’s father is killed.  Esperanza’s uncles come in and take over.  They have every right to because it’s the 1930s, and a husband can’t leave land to his wife; instead he had to leave the land to his brothers.  Unfortunately, his brothers are corrupt.

Another tragedy befalls Esperanza and her mother when Esperanza’s mother hesitates when one of the uncles offers to marry her.

Esperanza and her mother, with help from their family servants, decide to run away to the United States to pursue work.

After a long, dangerous journey, Esperanza finds herself helping in the fields, trying to eek out a living alongside her mother.  When a huge dust storm hits, Esperanza’s mother gets very sick, and Esperanza realizes she has to be ambitious and work hard to help her mother.

My Thoughts on the Book

I’ve read a lot about the Dust Bowl and the migration from Oklahoma to California to find work.  What I didn’t know was that there were also many from Mexico working in California, and they lost their jobs or suffered lower pay when those from Oklahoma, desperate, were willing to accept even lower wages than those from Mexico were working for.

What also made this story interesting is that it’s based on the author’s grandmother’s own life.

I give Esperanza Rising 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

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