Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.
Original publication date
Thanks to Jenn (Nittnut) for recommending this book.
Living a life of luxury in Mexico where her father is a wealthy land owner, Esperanza's life dramatically changes when her father is killed by those of poverty who are angry with a culture of exceeding wealth for the few and dire, desperate, inescapable poverty for the many.
When her uncles rob Esperanza's mother of her wealth, the family flees to California and become migrant workers.
Told through Esperanza's eyes, we observe the difficulties of adjustment and watch as the child of wealth humbles herself to live with and relate to the poor.
Esperanza rises above her perceptions and finds strength and beauty in the simple pleasures of life.
This is an excellent portrayal of the Mexican uprising, of the life of the migrant worker in California and the trials and tribulations they experienced.
The genre of this book is multicultural realistic fiction. It is realistic fiction because it is a story that could happen in real life. The multicultural part of the genre comes from the fact that she is from Mexico and has come to America. Esperanza is the main character in the book. She displays tremendous growth through very difficult situation during the story. The theme of this book is to never give up. In the story, Esperanza faces many challenges that force her to grow up quickly, even though she has grown up in a life where she did not need to worry about anything. She never gives up, though, even when it looks tough.
Esperanza, the daughter of a wealthy landowner, and her mother must leave their home in Mexico and start over as farm workers in California after the death of her father. Set in the early 1930's, this book gives you a feel for the struggles of the Great Depression as well as California History . Filled with Spanish phrases and words, it's a great introduction to learning Spanish and shows many cultural aspects as well.
This book is rich with ideas for great discussions on empathy, economics, labor unions, race relations, prejudice, rights, family, choices, hope, attitude, work, pride, and kindness. Make sure you keep tissues by as you read. I don't usually cry when reading, but this book brought my tears to the surface again and again making it difficult to read aloud to my kids. It's a sweet book about hard work, love, and hope.
Esperanza's selfishness and kindness, her despair at her new life, and the courage she uses to find her place make this an engaging story. The scenes of life at the workers camp are beautifully described, allowing us to take part in Esperanza's struggles and joys.
I'd sell this book by telling the story of how Esperanza is left minding the babies for the first time, and she feeds them the plums, and they use diaper after diaper during the afternoon.
This is an example of historical fiction because the story takes place in 1924. While the characters are fictional, Esperanza and her story are reflections of the author's grandma's life as a migrant worker.
First, my gripes, and they are minor ones. Some scenes were so undetailed that I wasn't sure the author could even picture them. The house fire, for example - "We watched the house burn," or some such vague phrase. Secondly, the labor camp was somewhat unrealistic to me, in that Mama's illness seems to have had no effect on their food supply or quality of life. Are they really that poor? I kept expecting them to suffer. It didn't happen.
But, on the other hand, this book has a sympathetic main character, a well-crafted plot, and some history and human rights morals. It is simply a very good, very normal children's novel - and there is nothing wrong with that.