Wednesday, October 16, 2013


You won't have to spend much time reading this very short novel, but digesting it may take a little longer.  Esperanza is a teenager who doesn't like her name.  This is one of the many things we learn about her, as she acquaints us with her neighbors, mostly women, ashamed, abused, diseased, or locked away--stuck in situations that they can never overcome--in a Latino section of Chicago.  Her family's house is not what she or her parents had yearned for, but it's a step up from the rentals with apathetic landlords that they've endured in the past.  Except for her Papa, the men are not good for much of anything except dance partners.  Mostly, though we learn about Esperanza's hopes, dreams, friendships, and at least one traumatic episode in her life.  She vows not to become a teenaged single mother like some of the girls she knows and tells her story, as well as theirs, in a series of very short narratives.  Although the ending is hopeful, I would have liked a little more laughter or at least some characters that served as role models or positive influences, rather than just examples of what not to do.  Where does Esperanza get her gumption?  I'm still not sure, but at least she has some.

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