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Esperanza: A Latina Story

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Fourteen-year old Esperanza Ignacio could only think of a few words to sum up her crap, crap, crap! She was born into a poor Latino family living in a small crummy apartment in the barrio side of town, where the graffiti chiseled more the souls and character of the residents than it impacted the exterior looks of the buildings. Her father was a drunken, gambler, and wife-beater who, one cold night, got arrested after a violent intrusion. Her entire circle of relatives consisted of nothing but formers-former drug-addicts, former gangsters and gang-bangers, former alcoholics, former everything. Yep, her life was nothing but a huge load of crap. And she hadn't even started high school yet. After surviving a scorching summer heat, Esperanza enters the unfamiliar world of high-school with a tight knot in her stomach. On the very first day, she is sucked into a blunder of catastrophic events beginning with accidentally running into the world's BIGGEST bully. Now, she has made herself the prime target for a main course. And, to top it all off, she has to see this girl everyday in P.E! P.E.-the one class Esperanza truly despises the most. Could life be any worse for her? Well, her family could take in a relative hopped up on drugs, a probable shooting can take place right in front of her, and Esperanza could also sit and listen to the crazed ranting of her loud psychotic mother. Oh, wait, all that does happen. To make things even easier, her best friend, Carla, won't stop trying to marry her off to her twin brother, Carlos. And she has these two puny siblings constantly vying for her attention. God, it's a wonder she doesn't strap herself in a straight jacket and pretend to be Elvis. Nonetheless, Esperanza attempts to get through it all. She is a smart and ambitious young kid struggling to survive her life while fighting to make her mark on the world. Her story is filled with pain, strength, and too much loud bickering. It carries a voice enriched with barrio slang and sarcastic humor. Esperanza illustrates what persistent Latino youth can achieve when they get back up after a fall and keep on walking straight into college. "Esperanza is an admirable and too real story of many Latino youths lacking role models, who find themselves lost and isolated in the paved jungles of the inner cities and overwhelmed by the dissonance of barrio life. Sandra C. Lopez has created a resilient and likeable character, Esperanza, who seems closer to a naked truth-seeker than to a barrio kid-desperately trying to get out of a crappy world, but not knowing exactly where she was going to. Highly Recommended." Andrea Alessandra, University of California, Berkeley "Sandra López is a fresh and resonant voice from the Hispanic rainbow." Ray Michael Baca Author-"Brotherhood of the Light"

356 pages, Paperback

First published March 15, 2008

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About the author

Sandra C. Lopez

3 books317 followers
Sandra C. López is one of today's influential Latina authors in Young Adult literature. Her first novel, Esperanza: A Latina Story, was published in March 2008 WHILE she was still in college. Since then she has published several other books, including the Single Chicas series. She was named as one of "2011 Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch" by Latino Stories, and her book, Beyond the Gardens, was a Silver Medal winner of the 2016 Global Ebook Awards in Multicultural Fiction and won first place in the Int'l Latino Book Awards. She also works as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. Art, literature, and travel are her passions, and she aims to keep doing them as long as she can. For inquiries regarding events and projects, please contact her directly.

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Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
Profile Image for D.N. Hoxa.
Author 71 books388 followers
December 7, 2016
Where can I start... I loved Esperanza! The story was truly inspiring. The character of Esperanza, a girl who takes us through four years of her life in a very poor neighborhood, is very likable, strong, and with a great sense of humor. A very entertaining read. I was given this book by the author for an honest review and I'm glad I got the opportunity to read it.
Profile Image for Peggy.
2,275 reviews39 followers
January 13, 2021
Again this author doesn't disappoint! Love how well this book was put together! How relatable the story and character is! If you have read anything from this author you really are missing out! I would recommend reading all of her books!
Profile Image for Larissa.
227 reviews35 followers
July 31, 2014
3.5 Stars
Esperanza was given to me by the author. It was the first book I had reviewed that was given to me for the purpose of reviewing in a while and I am glad I did. Much of what I love about receiving review books is that it exposes me to so many stories that I would not have picked up by myself.

Esperanza is a girl growing up in a poor LA barrio who wants more than what her current situation offers. It is an inspiring story of perseverance, and I really liked how this story focuses on the main character's upward trajectory out of a bad situation and not just focuses on the negative. Another thing I really like about the story is how Lopez interweaves Spanish dialogue with the English. I thought it authentically showed the atmosphere of how bilingual communities interact. I say the as a person who can read Spanish fairly proficiently though. While most of the Spanish dialogue is mostly easy to infer, and no major plot points are divulged in Spanish, I could see how it could be potentially frustrating for non-Spanish speakers. Another way Lopez captures a feel of authenticity in Esperanza is how she shows Esperanza's family's dynamics. The relationships between the different relatives are complex and nuanced, and I felt as though if I went to LA I would be able to find her family there, real as life.

This story was a bit different than the ones I usually read in that there was not a definitively clear story arc. It told the story of a life over a period of several years, and while there was a clear culmination, it was not like a story about a quest or a romance if a mystery where everything is focused on that event. It was focused on a life, and this seems much harder to write, but it was partly because if this I had some points where I had trouble staying engaged. The beginning started off a bit slow for me and it took several chapters before I really got into he story. There were also parts in the middle where I got bored be used there were scenes that I felt didn't further the plot in any way. Yes, Esperanza's younger siblings are a hassle, and it may be that for all four years of high school the only thing her best friend can talk about is hooking Esperanza up with her brother, but if I have already read several scenes that amply illustrate these things, I don't need more.

Also, while I understand the author wanted to write with a young voice and also wanted to get across how unhappy Esperanza was with her lot, the complaining in the narration and tone at some point stopped adding to the story. That's not to say it was unfounded, but the author has to walk a fine line between letting us into a character's head, but not showing so much that we start to lose sympathy for the character (unless that was the intention, which it clearly was not in this instance). A character may be able to live in a bear perpetual state of annoyance, but I as the reader cannot.

All things considered though, Esperanza is an enjoyable and inspiring read. It is a story very much about the American Dream and fighting for your aspirations. It is also a story told through a lens we do not see enough of. I'll be excited to see what else this author puts out.
Profile Image for Tonja Drecker.
Author 3 books191 followers
June 6, 2020
It's been awhile since I read a coming-of-age novel, which came across as authentic as this one, and this makes it more than a treat to dive into.

Fourteen-year-old Esperanza just finished eighth grade and has to survive a very hot summer before high school begins...and she's promised her mother hundreds of times that she is going to finish her schooling no matter what. It's not like her past has been easy. Raised by a single-mother, caring for younger siblings, abused by a drunken father, related to only drug-addicts and criminals...her life has been rough. When high school starts, she's excited to start a new chapter but finds herself at odds, right away, with another girl. Add the constant nagging of her best friend to get together with their twin brother, a mother who seems to be loosing it, and a relative with a drug problem moving in, and things aren't going to get any easier than before.

This novel is a little different than many young adult novels, in that there isn't really a single problem Esperanza has to work through. This book is about several years of her life, the problems she faces, and how she deals with them. During the first chapters, the reader learns about her past, gets to know her family and friends, and discovers who Esperanza is. There's isn't really a steady threaded plot, but the reader is simply drawn into her every day life. It's a read which dives into the character, allowing the reader to get to know her inside and out. Because of this, her experiences hit a more personal level and allow the emotions to touch the heart.

Esperanza comes across as a young girl, who has things under better control than she thinks. Life gets rough, and she makes mistakes, but she's a strong character with a good moral compass and a ton of heart. Her determination, even when things threaten to pull her under, is inspiring and is something many young adult readers can easily identify with. But then, every scene, character, and even the problems come across very realistic. (There are a few triggers—family abuse, drugs, mental health issues, etc. )

I received a complimentary copy and found the character depth more than well done.
Profile Image for Victoria Rodríguez.
595 reviews23 followers
March 31, 2020
A very enjoyable book! The story is about Esperanza Ignacio, a girl who wants to improve her life through study and intelligent work. From a very young age she was raised with her mother and siblings. They live in a humble neighborhood in California, they are part of the Latino community. Esperanza's mother had to work hard to support her children since her husband was imprisoned due to illegal behaviors. Furthermore, Esperanza dreams of one day attending university, since she has a unique talent for art. However, she has always been close to her family and community they are an essential part of her life. Nevertheless, she will have to find a way to fulfil her dreams. A lovely book that I enjoyed to the last page. I thank the writer for sharing her book with me, through her narrative I was able to transport myself to Esperanza's mind, a delightful experience.
Author 1 book1 follower
March 21, 2020
This book manages to entertain while shedding light on issues like racism and poverty that its heroine faces. Esperanza shares her daily struggles and thoughts without begging for sympathy. She does so with humor and shares experiences that most teen girls can relate to, like bullying and buying bras. It includes some shocking events that Esperanza recounts without drama, and the fact that she accepts these events as a matter of course speaks volumes about her life expectations and makes her triumph over them all the more reason to cheer. The book is peppered with Spanish phrases, and the reader who does not speak Spanish should have Google translate ready in order to appreciate all the content. Overall, I really liked this book for its cultural insights and uplifting storyline.
Profile Image for Lorena Romero.
14 reviews1 follower
February 28, 2019
I reallly enjoyed this book made me laugh in some points I grew up in a Latino neighborhood and can relate sto some stuff she wrote in the story. Kept me reading more and more likely vebhowbesperanza never gave up on school and even finished. I love how the writer didn’t make her into o story were she depended on a guy to do stuff for her or even boy crazy. Made me sad in some stuff felt like I was. In the story next to Esperanza he mor I read. Got more excited when I found out there is a part two can’t wait to get my hands into the next story definitely not disappointed with this story so if you ask me if i recommend this book ? My simple answer is yes
Profile Image for Marta Aldrighetti.
442 reviews3 followers
February 28, 2019
East LA, Ignacio family: hardworker mom Angela, abuser father in jail, Esperanza 14, Miranda 10, Julio 6.
fresh and young language, easy and fast to read, enjoyable simple funny story!
1 review
October 2, 2014
Sandra C. Lopez is a fresh voice from the barrio. In her first novel, Esperanza: A Latina Story, Lopez chronicles the life of young Esperanza’s turbulent family life in Hawaiian Gardens.

The main character Esperanza, through a first person narration, walks us through a four-year period of her life in a poverty-stricken and gang infested neighborhood. The novel is centered around Esperanza’s observations and thoughts of her barrio life and on her high school years. On her fist day of high school, a gang of young men harasses her, and later in the day, she meets a bully that makes her school life miserable.

Lopez does a convincing job portraying the dialect of the barrio, for instance, when Esperanza engages in conversations with her friends Carlos and Carla, when the backyard mechanics make their rude and lewd catcalls, and when the gang members at school encircle her like vultures. In addition, her grandmother’s no-nonsense speech is at times harsh but mainly entertaining.

This is definitely Esperanza’s story as seen and told from her perspective. After finishing the novel, I was left wanting to know more about the mother since mom was a central figure in this story as well.

Esperanza: A Latina Story is at times sarcastic, at times humorous, and at times trying. The overall message is a positive one though. It is one of perseverance to overcome a challenging neighborhood and of Esperanza’s determination not to allow the negative influences that surround her or poverty to hold her back. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about what life is really like in the barrio. I also recommend this book to young people (especially those living in barrios) as it may serve as a source of inspiration that can guide them in a positive direction.
Profile Image for L V.
112 reviews8 followers
December 18, 2012
Reviewed by: Bela M.
Member of Livin'la vida Latina

Review: What can I say? I loved Esperanza--her personality, her voice, her sense of humor, but most of all, her inner strength to become somebody. Like many Latino youths, Esperanza comes from a poverty-stricken home marked by domestic abuse, alcoholism, gangland connections among her relatives, and a saddening absence of hope for the future. When Esperanza enters high school, she faces bullies, the peer pressure to meet low expectations, and the tremendous possibility that she, too, will become just another Latina dropout. Esperanza has no role models and no home support, but she finds strength she did not realize she had and fights against obstacles to fulfill her dreams. You can't help but root for Esperanza as she struggles to find her place in this world.

Not only does this book have an inspirational message for our Latina sisters, but it is also laugh-out-loud funny! I especially loved the overbearing mother. It totally reminded me of my own.

Filled with unforgettable characters and a voice enriched with a raw, teenage voice. We definitely need more books like this out there!
Profile Image for John.
Author 26 books211 followers
September 23, 2013
Sanda C. Lopez's delightfully written debut novel, Esperanza: A Latina Story, follows a Mexican-American girl through four turbulent years of high school in east Los Angeles in the late 1990s.

From the beginning, Esperanza Ignacio commands admiration and respect. She stays true to herself despite the demands imposed on her by a controlling single mother, two needy younger siblings, and several not-so-admirable friends, relatives, and classmates, who try to badger and bully her in unproductive directions.

As a reader, I had no difficulty imagining the obstacles the girl faced. Esperanza's world is a mostly bleak place, filled with bullying, broken families, alcoholism, poverty, and the myriad temptations of youth. Lopez does a masterful job in describing them all.

What makes this story compelling, however, is not the description but rather the uplifting tone. The author gives readers a protagonist we can root for from start to finish. She reminds us that even those living in challenging environments can succeed by remaining focused, optimistic, and compassionate.
Profile Image for Sandra Lopez.
Author 3 books317 followers
May 14, 2014
"Esperanza is an admirable and too real story of many Latino youths lacking role models, who find themselves lost and isolated in the paved jungles of the inner cities and overwhelmed by the dissonance of barrio life. Sandra C. Lopez has created a resilient and likeable character, Esperanza, who seems closer to a naked truth-seeker than to a barrio kid-desperately trying to get out of a crappy world, but not knowing exactly where she was going to. Highly Recommended." --Andrea Alessandra, University of California, Berkeley

"Sandra López is a fresh and resonant voice from the Hispanic rainbow." --Ray Michael Baca Author-"Brotherhood of the Light"
28 reviews5 followers
December 24, 2009
A story of a Mexican teen who wants more than her old barrio is offering.
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews

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