Well, I have my first official fail of the challenge. I was only able to read one book in November, and technically finished it one week into December. Boo!
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan (reread)
I first read this book about ten years ago for an American children’s literature class. I didn’t remember much about the story, but remembered enjoying it. It was one of my first forays into Hispanic literature, as no one had placed much emphasis on it before then.
Esperanza is about to turn thirteen and her life is amazing. She has two loving parents, who own a large ranch in Mexico. They have lots of friends and servants, and her Abuelita (grandmother), lives with them as well. She has everything she could possibly want. Then, the unthinkable happens and she and her mother are forced to relocate to California. It is the middle of the Great Depression, and Esperanza must make hard choices and get used to her new circumstances before it’s too late.
*****WARNING: THE NEXT PARAGRAPH CONTAINS A SPOILER*****
(but it happens in the first chapter)
This book is an easy read and moves like a fairy tale. Even though the time period and setting might not be immediately accessible, the trials that Esperanza faces are very relatable. This book took a completely different meaning for me upon this reread, as I have now lost my father (although in different circumstances), as Esperanza did. I was able to sympathize with her and understand some of the emotions and feelings she was battling.
I would heartily recommend this book. Esperanza is a strong female protagonist and I think her perseverance and determination are characteristics any young adult would be well to emulate.
VERDICT: I think this is a great addition to the list. As I said, this story of riches to rags, and overcoming difficult circumstances, is relatable and gives students something to strive for themselves. It is also one of the few books that features a non-white main character, and it’s important that people see portrayals of all cultures.