by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Coming-of-Age; Family Drama; Historical Fiction
Esperanza Rising is a classic coming-of-age tale that explores Esperanza's transition from slightly-spoiled little rich girl to mature, reflective adult. But since Esperanza's family plays a central role in the story, we can also call it a family drama. It definitely has family, and hoo-boy does it have drama.
But neither of these genres captures the historical aspect of the novel. If you've read our discussion of "Setting," you know that Esperanza Rising is majorly rooted in real-life history. While it's definitely a work of fiction, the characters in Esperanza Rising move around in a world shaped by real historical events: the Mexican Revolution, the migration of Mexican and American workers to California in search of work, the Great Depression, and the period of "voluntary deportation" of Mexicans from the U.S. in the 1930s. So we've got a story that places fictional characters and events in a real historical setting; that, folks, is historical fiction.