Open main menu

Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising is a young adult historical fiction novel by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Esperanza Rising
Esperanza Rising cover.jpg
AuthorPam Muñoz Ryan
TranslatorRegina Allentoff
IllustratorJoe Cepeda
CountryAguascalientes, Mexico
GenreHistorical Fiction
Published2000 Scholastic
Media typePrint (paperback)+ (hardcover)
Pages259 plus authors notes
LC ClassPZ7.R9553 Es 2000

Background InformationEdit

American shops from Oklahoma (called Okies) were often hostile toward Mexicans because they felt they were taking away their jobs. Mexican migrant laborers would work for much lower pay, so employers would much tension between the migrant workers on the fields. Some felt that their conditions were unlivable, and they deserved much better, so they began to protest and fight for what they believed. Still, others refused to join the protest in fear that they would be fired. In the 1920s and 1930s (about the time story takes place) California remained about 86% white. Most of these people were those who owned the land, while the 36,800 workers, many of whom were Mexicans, did not. She also had to adjust to a new life in California while not knowing how to clean.

Critical receptionEdit

Along with its Best Books citation, Publishers Weekly gave Esperanza Rising a starred review, citing its "lyrical, fairy tale - like style". It praised the way "Ryan poetically conveys Esperanza's ties to the land by crafting her story to the rhythms of the seasons" and the fact that "Ryan fluidly juxtaposes world events... with one family's will to survive".[1] Kirkus Reviews disliked the "epic tone, characters that develop little and predictably, and... romantic patina". However it also found that the "style is engaging, her characters appealing", ultimately saying that the story "bears telling to a wider audience".[2]

Children's Literature praised Esperanza Rising and suggested that it "would be a great choice for a multicultural collection".[3] The book has been incorporated into school curriculum in literature, social studies, and Spanish.[4] The University of Missouri has a detailed literature unit available online, including maps, photos and links to other resources.[5] Berkeley High School used recordings of the book with its English as a Second Language students in an Earphone English group. They found that Esperanza Rising doesn't just appeal to students who, like Esperanza, have emigrated from Mexico, but "also to those who have moved here after losing their fathers to violence in the former Yugoslavia".[6]


  1. ^ "Children's Review: Esperanza Rising". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  2. ^ "Kirkus Reviews: Esperanza Rising". Kirkus reviews. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  3. ^ "Barnes and Noble Review: Esperanza Rising". More About This Book: Editorial Reviews. Barnes and Noble. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  4. ^ Boccuzzi-Reichert, Angela (May 2005). "A Book Club for Teachers". School Library Journal. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  5. ^ "eThemes". Literature: "Esperanza Rising" by Pam Munoz Ryan. University of Missouri.
  6. ^ Goldsmith, Francisca (May 2002). "Earphone English". School Library Journal.