Ryan says the themes of diversity and social justice that weave through much of her work reflect her cultural and family background. One of her grandmothers was from Oklahoma and the other from Mexico. Both sides of the family were farmworkers. Her mother was born in a segregated camp like the one described in Esperanza Rising.
"I am Latino. I am a woman. I am concerned with social justice and women's rights," Ryan says. But "I don't sit down to impart a message or a moral. My goal is that the reader wants to turn that page."
There's even a fan-fiction kind of contest as part of the One Book program, which the Sentinel is sponsoring. What if Esperanza moved to Florida? Check it out.