Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan | Teen Ink

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

January 16, 2014
By Cbradley BRONZE, Orono, Maine
Cbradley BRONZE, Orono, Maine
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The Road of Rivers, Valleys and Fruit: A Young Girl's Journey from Palace to Ghetto

A perfect harmony contrasting luxury and immaturity with a true meaning in life, Pam Muñoz Ryan tells the fairy-like tale of a girl's dramatic transformation from princess to pauper. This lyrical, robust novel is set in the 1930s and captures a young Mexican girl's tragic fall from riches to her grimy, dusty life as an immigrant in California. It is a tale intertwined with her growing awareness of class and ethnic tensions of her new life, and her struggles will enmesh your heart and absorb it into this sweeping and soulful novel.

The protagonist, thirteen-year-old Esperanza, couldn't be happier. She lives in a wealthy ranch in Mexico with her beloved Papa, Mama, and Abuelita that overlooks fields upon fields of swollen grapes and trellises of plump red roses. She has frilly dresses, silver spoons, servants, and a boy who loves her. Her life is peppered with sweet and delicate things, and she clings to them with an easy smile and careless laugh.

But one day, when her beloved Papa does not come home, Esperanza's life is changed forever. The plot runs like a swift river resting briefly on pebbles of breathtaking events: A dangerous man takes action, a house is burned to cinders, and Esperanza and her mother must flee under a basket of figs to California, where sweat, dirt, disease, and most of all, love awaits.

Ryan emphasizes Esperanza's growth and ability to overcome anything, and reminds as that the rich person is richer when he becomes poor, than the poor person when he becomes rich. The author cooks up a delicious soup of events and presents it in such a way that each word seems to sing, enrapturing the reader with spicy vocabulary, vibrant colors, and a message that is soft and comforting. This novel cannot be overlooked, and will lift you, dreamily, from your own world into another where even the most opposite of things may find peace within one another; where the unthinkable can happen.

Esperanza Rising is a heartfelt and moving piece, rich with the contrasting and chaotic culture of two countries, and is rooted in real-life history. If you enjoy realistic fiction, surprise events, and vivid description, Esperanza Rising will satisfy your every desire.

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