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Original Essays | April 11, 2014

Paul Laudiero: IMG Shit Rough Draft



I was sitting in a British and Irish romantic drama class my last semester in college when the idea for Shit Rough Drafts hit me. I was working... Continue »
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ISBN13: 9780316013819
ISBN10: 0316013811
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Publisher Comments:

An ambitious novel set in 1889 as civil war is brewing in Mexico. The daughter of a wealthy rancher rises from death with a power to heal, but it will take all her faith to endure the trials that await her.

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Stephanie Hammerwold, December 28, 2007 (view all comments by Stephanie Hammerwold)
This was the first selection of my book club at work. We were all in agreement that Urrea's writing is vibrant and alive. He captures the changing cultural climate of Mexico in the late 19th century and weaves an air of magic and mystery through the story.
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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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ISBN:
9780316013819
Publisher:
Libri

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