Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
You might know before reading this book that "Esperanza" means "hope". It is the resilient spirit of Esperanza that makes this such a compelling story. Esperanza does not want sympathy, but you will empathize with her all along the way.
The story takes place in the 1930's in Mexico. Esperanza is living an unusual life of privilege because her father is a landowner. When her father is killed, only the house and the income from the grapes were inherited to her mother. Everything else went to his nefarious brothers. The mother and daughter had to escape to California, leaving the grandmother behind. They make it across the border to a farm in the San Joaquin Valley. They have the support of the fellow migrant workers. Esperanza has never even held a broom before, but she sweeps the porch just to deduct a little amount from the rent. Esperanza thought her job was babysitting children. When her mother contracts Valley fever, Esperanza is forced to take her mother's place in order to pay the rent.
The reality and hardship for the migrant workers are described without a flaw. The cramped row houses, the solidarity, and the harsh working conditions on the farm are all described by Pat Munoz Ryan. This famous author must be a good listener. This story has been told for generations in her family. It is based on the farm life of her maternal grandmother. This is a must read for everyone. What a great discussion for generations to talk about farms and their personal hardships. Everyone of the age of nine through older generations should read this book. It's a good thing that Roselle Library has two copies in the Young Adult section and another copy and an audio compact disc in the Youth Services. Roselle Library even has a Esperanza Renace in the Spanish collection.