I Remember Nothing
In I Remember Nothing writer, director, and humorist Nora Ephron takes another look at growing old(er). If you are a fan of Ephron’s books, I Feel Bad About My Neck, and movies, When Harry Met Sally, you will want to read this again and again. You may read passages that sound familiar because the author does repeat some of the stories and essays that were in previous publications but they are just as funny and thought provoking the second time around. If you haven’t read Nora Ephron in the past you are in for a real treat.
by Jonathan Safran Foer
Jonathan Safran Foer, retells a story told by his grandmother of her life during World War II:
“The worst it got was near the end. A lot of people died right at the end, and I didn’t know if I could make it another day. A farmer, a Russian, God bless him, he saw my condition, and he went into this house and came out with a piece of meat for me.”
“He saved your life."
“I didn’t eat it.”
"You didn’t eat it?”
“It was pork. I wouldn’t eat pork.”
“What do you mean why?”
“What, because it wasn’t kosher?"
“But not even to save your life?”
“If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”
The story begins just before Esperanza’s 13th birthday. The year is 1930. Her father is a wealthy land owner in Mexico. The family lives in a beautiful home on El Rancho de las Rosas. Esperanza has the best of everything. Her servant friend Miguel calls her “Mi reina, my queen”.
Following a series of tragic events, Esperanza and her mother flee to California, leaving behind Esperanza’s grandmother, Abuelita—a very wise old woman. They settle in the San Joaquin Valley on a Mexican farm worker’s camp. Here everyone works for low wages. Esperanza finds it so very hard to accept her new life of poverty. She quickly learns how to work hard and to appreciate what she has.
Esperanza Rising is the story of survival and the love of family and friends. Though the story is fiction, it is based on Ryan’s grandmother recollections from her childhood and actually parallels her life in many ways. Ryan discusses how her grandmother was the inspiration for the book and includes historical facts about her grandmother’s recollections from childhood. Some fun things at the back of the story include how to make Hibiscus Flower Punch, yarn dolls, and a discussion of the many proverbs interspersed throughout the story. The author additionally connects the harvesting of vegetables and fruits to each chapter title in the book.
Esperanza Rising is an easy read and a heartwarming story for children and adults. Its content leads to many historical and cultural discussion questions as well as an introduction to the Spanish language.