Rating: 10/10 Hearts
Format: Audio-Book – Library
Buy it Here: Esperanza Rising (McDougal Littell Library)
It’s a little surprising that I’ve never read this book before, but here I am, 30 years old and still learning! As I like to do, I listened to the audio-book of this tale, read by Anika Noni Rose, rented from my local public library over the Overdrive app (if you don’t have Overdrive, you need to download it right now, it saves me so much money every year, I swear). It’s solidly winter here in the frozen north, and I started listening to this book in my car, waiting for my heated seats to warm up and make my butt nice and toasty.
On the eve of her birthday, Esperanza’s father is murdered. When her mother refuses to marry her corrupt uncle, they must leave the vineyard and beautiful home that Esperanza has called home her whole life. Leaving her beloved Abuela behind, Esperanza and her mother cross north to the United States, and begin work on a large migrant farm.
I ate this book up. It was ridiculously beautiful and moving. I was smiling and crying by the end. I was amazed to find out that Esperanza was based on her grandmother’s life. It made it all the more moving.
I loved that the book started and ended with Esperanza’s birthday. I was so proud of the how much she grew and matured in one year. Which was good, because in the beginning of the book I was worrying that I had another spoiled, lame, “Strong Female Protagonist,” on my hands. But it was not to be! I was pretty ready to kick her off the train when she first left Mexico with her mother, but she redeemed herself.
I always enjoy books with other languages in the text, especially audio-books. It’s so much more immersive to hear what the language sounds like. Especially hearing the sayings and the food words made the story more immersive for me.
This book was also educational for me, since my history classes never mentioned the deportation of citizens in the 1930s. The book dealt with the complicated issue of unionization in language that didn’t demonize either side, which is really saying something considering this is an incredibly divisive issue (perhaps not when the book was published, but it certainly is now). Marta’s passion both for improving her life and the lives around her, but also her love for her mother spoke volumes for the humanity of the strikers, even when it might have been difficult to understand why they would harass the workers.
The ending of the book brought the beautiful surprise of Miguel bringing Abuelita up from Mexico. I was driving out of town into the country at night when I listened to the very end of the book– it was dark all around me and the stars were just becoming visible. I wept with joy when Ramona, Abuelita and Esperanza were finally all reunited. Not, perhaps, my safest driving moment, but a lovely moment all the same.
I fully recommend this book to folks of all ages.
Subjective Hearts: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5/5
Objective Hearts: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5/5
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