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The Hummingbird's Daughter

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The Hummingbird's Daughter Cover

 

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Julie Wheat, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by Julie Wheat)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were all well developed. The author articulates an underlying sense of humor in this dramatic, historical novel. I felt I was right there, living & experiencing life, struggles and the rewards of these Mexican people.
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alana francis, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by alana francis)
Beautifully written combining a sense of magic and realism in a great story.
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(1 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
crs5t, January 4, 2010 (view all comments by crs5t)
This book is an absolute pleasure to read. If you ever have the chance to attend a reading from Luis Alberto Urrea, don't miss it because his readings are unlike any others that I've experienced. It wasn't so much a reading as a performance, and if you weren't in love with the novel already before the reading, then you will be after.
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(2 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
busyreading..., April 13, 2008 (view all comments by busyreading...)
This is a beautiful book worth reading twice. Every character won my heart as they grapple with love, war, mystery, and even a miracle. I cannot recommend it more!
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(12 of 21 readers found this comment helpful)
olivasdan, October 27, 2006 (view all comments by olivasdan)
Book Review

By Daniel Olivas

In the harsh yet thriving landscape of Mexico, circa 1880, the poor, illiterate and unmarried Yaqui woman (known by her tribe as The Hummingbird), gave birth to Teresita with the help of the town's healer, the curandera called Huila. Huila-one of Urrea's most remarkable creations-is as cantankerous as she is powerful. So powerful in fact that she lives in a room behind the kitchen of the great hacienda owned by the wealthy Don Tomas Urrea. Don Tomas does not care much for religion but he knows that Huila is an asset and puts up with her magic as much as Huila puts up with her patron's habit of spreading his seed despite having a beautiful, attentive wife and several children who populate the hacienda.

Teresita eventually-and literally-wanders into Don Tomas's life and is subsequently taken under Huila's wing. Huila notices two things about this unusual girl: she resembles the Urrea family and she possesses the power to heal. Don Tomas ultimately owns up to paternity and is determined to make a lady out of this barefooted urchin. But as Teresita matures, her powers grow until all know that she is the curandera women should go to when they are about to give birth or when a child becomes ill. Then one day, when Teresita goes out to the fields, she is raped, beaten and eventually dies. But on the third day, at the end of burial preparations, in the midst of five mourning women, Teresita awakes. The town is abuzz with news of this miracle.

With her resurrection comes greater healing powers and, of course, fame. The Yaquis, as well as other native tribes, mestizos, and even Americans, make pilgrimages to the Urrea hacienda. The Catholic Church views this "saint" as a heretic, the vicious and corrupt government of Porfirio Diaz considers the girl a threat, and revolutionaries want to insinuate themselves into her sphere of influence for their own political cause.

The climax brilliantly mirrors the immigrant's experience of seeking safe passage to a foreign land while relying on loved ones as well as fate. Urrea, who is the award-winning author of ten books-fiction, non-fiction and poetry-tells us in an author's note that Teresa Urrea "was a real person"-his aunt. The Hummingbird's Daughter is his fictionalization of family lore based on twenty years of intense research and interviews. The result resonates with such passion and beauty that it doesn't matter whether Teresita's legend is based more on a people's wishful thinking than truth.

The Hummingbird's Daughter is a sumptuous, dazzling novel to which no review can do justice; one simply must read it.

[The full review first appeared in The Elegant Variation.]
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(32 of 59 readers found this comment helpful)
 1-5 of 5

Product Details

ISBN:
9780316154529
Author:
Urrea, Luis Alberto
Publisher:
Back Bay Books
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Historical
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20060431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
528
Dimensions:
8.30x5.58x1.42 in. 1.04 lbs.

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Featured Titles » General
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The Hummingbird's Daughter Used Trade Paper
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Product details 528 pages Back Bay Books - English 9780316154529 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'Her powers were growing now, like her body. No one knew where the strange things came from. Some said they sprang up in her after the desert sojourn with Huila. Some said they came from somewhere else, some deep inner landscape no one could touch. That they had been there all along.' Teresita, the real-life 'Saint of Cabora,' was born in 1873 to a 14-year-old Indian girl impregnated by a prosperous rancher near the Mexico-Arizona border. Raised in dire poverty by an abusive aunt, the little girl still learned music and horsemanship and even to read: she was a 'chosen child,' showing such remarkable healing powers that the ranch's medicine woman took her as an apprentice, and the rancher, Don Toms Urrea, took her — barefoot and dirty — into his own household. At 16, Teresita was raped, lapsed into a coma and apparently died. At her wake, though, she sat up in her coffin and declared that it was not for her. Pilgrims came to her by the thousands, even as the Catholic Church denounced her as a heretic; she was also accused of fomenting an Indian uprising against Mexico and, at 19, sentenced to be shot. From this already tumultuous tale of his great-aunt Teresa, American Book Award — winner Urrea (The Devil's Highway) fashions an astonishing novel set against the guerrilla violence of post — Civil War southwestern border disputes and incipient revolution. His brilliant prose is saturated with the cadences and insights of Latin-American magical realism and tempered by his exacting reporter's eye and extensive historical investigation. The book is wildly romantic, sweeping in its effect, employing the techniques of Catholic hagiography, Western fairy tale, Indian legend and everyday family folklore against the gritty historical realities of war, poverty, prejudice, lawlessness, torture and genocide. Urrea effortlessly links Teresita's supernatural calling to the turmoil of the times, concealing substantial intellectual content behind effervescent storytelling and considerable humor. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (May 17)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "The Hummingbird's Daughter breathes with life, populated with multiple, complex and genuinely individual characters.... It is an immensely entertaining work that is intelligently and sympathetically told.... [A] classic, a tribute and love song to the colorful and vibrant heart of all things Mexican."
"Review" by , "To the very end, The Hummingbird's Daughter is a book of surprises and savory treasures."
"Review" by , "A beautifully composed novel....[T]hat constantly stirs a reader's own sense of wonder."
"Review" by , "The Hummingbird's Daughter is nothing short of miraculous....The story of the saint is told with such love and care that it will make a believer out of anyone."
"Review" by , "[Urrea] has rendered a literary gem that does more than soar. It transcends."
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