Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

This is the one. It’s the latest family-favorite. If you haven’t discovered it yet, I’m nearly certain this is the one you want to make sure to find at the library next visit. As in tomorrow.

Esperanza refers to hope rising. It’s a lovely theme for a lovely story.

Esperanza’s father owns a huge ranch in Mexico, and she has always known a rich and comfortable life with a loving family and beautiful home... until the night before her 13th birthday when her father and his companions are killed by bandits out on the farther edges of their ranch.

Thanks to her corrupt and selfish uncle(s), one of whom wants to marry Esperanza’s mother, Ramona, they are forced to flee to the United States. Their former servants help them obtain work in the fields. The challenge of adjusting to all this is as great as it seems. And great is Ramona's character. Esperanza soon gets a chance to show her mettle and rise to the occasion of being her mother's daughter.

Though it is not a Catholic story per se, the Faith is part of the background and respectfully treated by an author who seems to grasp the depth of it. For example, when Esperanza and her mother travel to America, her mother, formerly a great and rich lady, treats the poor, widowed woman on board as a friend while Esperanza struggles with the unaccustomed dirt and grime of travel amongst the poor. The woman, a Catholic mother caring for several children, gets off the train and gives money to a crippled beggar while the rich and well-dressed walk on by. Esperanza's father paid just wages and treated his workers well before his untimely death.

There is no dearth of uplifting messages here. She's a gifted author. Your whole family could listen to this aloud. I've been meaning to read this book for awhile, and I'm sorry I waited. Don't do as I did. Do what I say. Read it!



Nancy Piccione September 27, 2010 at 12:32 PM  

Thank you! We need some new books around here!

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