Title: Esperanza Rising
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
First sentence: "Our land is alive, Esperanza," said Papa, taking her small hand as they walked through the gentle slopes of the vineyard.
This is the first book I have finished since Maya was born, which feels like a huge accomplishment! Now that Maya is becoming more adept at breastfeeding, I find my best reading time happens while I am nursing. I'm happy to be delving into books again. :)
Challenge book? I am counting this towards the Book Awards challenge. It is the 2002 winner of the Pura Belpre Award, which honors Latino authors whose work best portrays and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in a children's book.
Short summary: Esperanza is the daughter of a wealthy but generous landowner in Mexico. When tragedy strikes her family, Esperanza and her mother are forced to flee. They migrate to California , joining the ranks of thousands of farm workers struggling to survive during the Great Depression. Esperanza is forced to confront her new living circumstances, seeking hope and optimism in a new life.
What I thought: I loved this book, and I think it provides children and adults alike with a new perspective of the circumstances of Mexican farm workers during a time period that is better known for the plight of Oklahomans affected by the Dust Bowl. The story is based on the experiences of the author's grandmother.
In March of 1929, the federal government passed the Deportation Act that gave counties the power to send great numbers of Mexicans back to Mexico. Government officials thought this would solve the unemployment associated with the Great Depression (it didn't). COunty officials in Los Angeles organized "deportation trains" and the Immigration Bureau made "sweeps" in the San Fernando Valley and LA, arresting anyone who looked Mexican, regardless of whether or not they were citizens or in the United States legally. Many of those sent to Mexico were native born United States citizens and had never been to Mexico. The numbers of Mexicans deported during this so-called "voluntary repatriation" was greater than the Native American removals of the 19th century and greater than the Japanese-American relocations during World War II. It was the largest involuntary migration in the U.S. up to that time. Between 1929 and 1935 at least 450,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans were sent back to Mexico. Some historians think the numbers were closer to a million.
-pg. 257-250, Author's Note