First read Luis Alberto Urreas Hummingbirds Daughter nearly 13 years ago. Something about Urreas ability to evoke the landscape and capture a mood really drew me into this story.
Mr. Urrea has now joined the ranks of those authors whose books I'll read simply because their names are on the cover.
Bella Melodía Mexicana de Santa de Cabor 4.25 stars Mexican author Urrea's mystical mural of a tale following a female saint, known as the "Mexican Joan of Arc" ("Everything the government does...is morally wrong").
I'm as irritated by the untreated mental illness of the young girl as I am by the author's celebration of it as Divine Revelation or whatever. That's reasonable to do since the author is from the same time I am, not from the times he's chosen to write about.
Teresa is the illegitimate daughter of wealthy (and married) south-of-the-border rancher Don Tomas and a fourteen year-old peasant Indian woman who fled Sinaloa for greener pastures. The protective, flinty Huila, a medicine woman who works for Don Tomas, apprehends Teresa's destiny and mentors her in the art and botanical science of healing. Huila is also aware that Teresa has a native and inherited shamanic talent way beyond midwifery and organic medicine. But it is its own mystical and magical epic story of community and faith, of an unforgettable daughter and the people who loved her.
A young Indian girl in Mexico who was known as "The Hummingbird" gave birth to Teresita in 1873. Teresita was a real person in the author's ancestral family who stood up for the rights of the Indians in Mexico. The book was a winning combination of history, fiction, and Indian legends.
This book is a work of fiction but is based on a real woman from an actual place and time, and the history is interesting. I guess this doesnt sound like a rousing endorsement but I would recommend this book if youre interested in Mexicos history and peoples.
In this book you learn about her life in Mexico, until she was forced to leave at the age of 19. Teresita was a distant cousin to the author. This book is a beautiful example of what can be achieved through historical fiction. I have listened to the audio version of The Hummingbird's Daughter, and I loved it. I did not have any trouble with that, although I do not know Spanish. Perhaps it is because the imagery of horrible, heartwrenching depictions (for example sores with pus and vermin and stench) contrasts so abruptly with beauty, that I was blown away. Beyond the wonderful imagery, the book teaches about past events and about a different culture. Luis Alberto Urrea has written a follow-up book entitled Queen of America: A Novel, The theme is significantly different. Both follow Teresita, the Saint of Cabora.
That this novel is based on the life of his ancestor Teresita Urrea (who just happens to be a Mexican folk hero), only adds to the feeling of immediacy of the telling. For a book of 500 pages, it never feels slow or overwrought. The one other thing I feel compelled to mention is the good-naturedness of the writing.