Esperanza Rising, written by Pam Munoz Ryan, was the first book I ever bought with my own money. I was twelve years old at my school’s annual scholastic book fair and the cover image called to me. I judged books by their cover. If I didn’t feel moved, if I didn’t feel intrigued, if the cover couldn’t catch the corner of my eye as I walked past, the book wasn’t for me. Even as an adult and an avid book lover and a believer in hidden gems behind minimal to near-nothing covers — I still do believe in a captivating cover. It is the first image a potential reader sees of a book. Visualization is profound. And if first impressions are to hold as high an esteem as they do with individuals, I would like to hold literature, upon which I grant access to enter the deepest and most intimate parts of my mind to take space, to devote sleepless nights to, and to be fundamentally moved by (if lucky), to that same high standard. And so, Esperanza came home with me that day 15 years ago. She’s traveled across state lines, occupied space on cheap bookshelf after cheaper bookshelf, and inside empty beer cases-turned storage boxes when I didn’t have a place to put her. When asked “What’s your favorite book?” I instinctively proclaim that I don’t have one. That I’m too indecisive to choose. That I love many different books for different reasons, making them incomparable. But intrinsically, I cannot deny that Esperanza’s image is the first to come to mind every time. It just seemed right to give a name to this blog that was in ode to her, in some way — that the first entry on this site was in dedication to her and to how she impacted my life.
Literature has always been a constant in my life because it forces me to think. It disrupts my preconceived notions and it challenges my predispositions. It is storytelling, which is pure, unrefined magic. The content can be fiction or fact, funny or sad, profound or dull — it doesn’t matter. Stories and fictional characters and towns and emotion and history and information are exquisitely woven into these tangible pockets of time that pervade every single person, in some capacity. I could not feel that way about any book or, feel so passionate as to attribute that feeling to the mantra and ideology I choose to live my life by and seek happiness for, if it wasn’t for Esperanza. She was my first chapter book which meant I was reading content I had never read before. The subject matter was rather heavy in certain areas, or at least, what I considered to be heavy at 12 years old. She was dealing with hardships and heartache, which were things I knew of and experienced in real life, but hadn’t seen written about in books. I was learning something from a book that I thought to be very important, but wasn’t being taught in school. These things piqued my interests. It made me question — something I had never seriously done before. I find that in youth, there is a time in which you just take what your parents tell you at face value, for the most part. Things just are. There is not much to question or think about why. But as adolescence peaks and interests change, so do the ways in which we think. Esperanza was the catalyst to that thought process. She pushed me down the rabbit hole. Once I got there, this inquisitive fire grew within me to question everything and to read as much as I could so I could learn about other things. Esperanza implanted her image and her story within me forever.
This blog is because of her. This blog is, because she was. This blog is an encapsulation of all of my thoughts and energies and interpretations. This is my think-pool upon which I will saturate with content that I’m incredibly passionate about or has invaded my mind space for far too long. This blog is the space in which I will share my raw and unfiltered truth. This blog is to engage with others who feel compelled. This blog is to reflect. This blog is to be shared.
Photo credit: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plans/teaching-content/esperanza-rising-discussion-questions/