Esperanza's privileged life in Mexico is turned completely upside down when her father is murdered. Her uncles then step into her life, find a loophole in her father's will and rob Esperanza and her mother of the money her father left to them. One uncle attempts to coerce Esperanza's mother into marrying him. Despite the external conflict the uncle's actions provide, much of the conflict taking place throughout the rest of the novel is internal. From a lavish life full of riches in Mexico to a life of poverty in America, Esperanza must adjust to a poor immigrant lifestyle in America. This internal conflict carries the plot forward through the remainder of the story. Esperanza's remaining family are forced to work in a Mexican labor camp where she stays home to care for the sick and elderly. The adjustment is not easy for Esperanza but as she grows, she learns that happiness can be found anywhere despite circumstances.