Advance praise for
Looking for Esperanza
“Adriana Páramo‘s Looking for Esperanza is an essential window into the hidden world of undocumented female farmworkers struggling to maintain their health, their families, and their dignity in an unforgiving world. Páramo shines a necessary light on these defiant fearless women fighting for their own small morsel of the American Dream. The result is a book both powerful and unforgettable.”
-- Dinty W. Moore, author of The Mindful Writer
This book is deceptive: mere words on paper quickly become a fireball, a careful and fierce hand that will grab your heart and pull, that will hurt a bit even as it feeds you. Adriana Paramo boldly merges ethnography, memoir, research, quest, letter, and poetry, inventing the language and tongue to describe a sustained encounter with undocumented Mexican agricultural workers. She brings to the formidable task her own history, questions, and aches as the daughter of a border-crossing single mother, and she seeks not data but humanity as she re-lives women's stories, following them in her mind and imagination to Mexico and into the work that feeds us and that must be revealed and examined. This astonishing work sets a new standard in the form of creative nonfiction.
--From Sonya Huber, author of Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir
A timely and stunning project, Adriana Páramo’s Looking for Esperanza is a heart-wrenching collection of portraits of Mexican women whose lives and journeys illustrate the complexity and dignity of the undocumented immigrant. Páramo writes with admirable honesty and sensitivity, making visible perspectives seldom explored in either literature or journalism: the Mexican laborer in the American Southeast, the woman as border-crosser, and the stories of struggle that rise above tragedy and travesty to highlight perseverance and hope.
--Rigoberto González, author of Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
Combining the skills of the anthropologist with the eye of the storyteller, Adriana Paramo in Looking for Esperanza adds to the great American metanarrative of immigration these charged accounts of undocumented women who have sought refuge in a land that takes what they can give but returns only a twilight acceptance.
--Marcia Aldrich, author of Girl Rearing and Companion to an Untold Story
Looking for Esperanza is a page turner. We've read about the Pilgrims; the earlier American settlers; the Irish and Italian waves of immigration. Well, this is what the current Hispanic wave of immigration looks like, and people are going to be making movies about it in future generations. This isn't dry anthropology or sociological stuff that's merely good for you. This is riveting. It's an amazing and well-reported chronicle about one of the most important forces shaping the United States, present and future.
--John Bowe, author of Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy.
“It is my hope,” Adriana Paramo writes in Looking for Esperanza, “that these women’s words are read the way they were told to me: with their throats and their knuckles, with their wrists, and their hearts, with rage and fire and love.” This astonishing and important book is a story of undocumented women farmworkers in the U.S. Paramo works besides these women, recording their stories, feeling their exhaustion at picking tomatoes, strawberries and other produce all day long in her own body, and learning of each that “the arc of her loss includes me.” Paramo began this project searching for a woman who crossed the border between Mexico and the U.S. with a child strapped to her body who died along the way, a woman who continued walking with her dead child in her arms. When Paramo finally finds Esperanza, the lesson of the woman’s story is how of a piece its tragedy and its resilience is with the stories of the other women the author has met along the way to finding her. I wish I could require everyone weighing in on the immigration question in America to read this book."
--Suzanna Paola, author of Body Toxic