Monday, June 26, 2006

Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan, 2000

In 1930, on the eve of Esperanza's thirteenth birthday, tragedy strikes her family when her father is ambushed and murdered by bandits while mending the fences around his large, prosperous Rancho de las Rosas in Mexico. Papa's stepbrothers hold their assets, and in months Esperanza and her mother flee to the San Joaquin Valley in California, assisted by their former servants, to join the campesinos and pick fruits and vegetables year-round. Esperanza's growth to maturity and compassion prevents this riches-to-rags story from feeling tragic, and the graceful and loving hand that wrote this tribute to her own grandmother skillfully employed the fruits and vegetables harvested by the campesinos to add fragrance and texture to an already well-ripened story. Strongly recommended.

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