The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea is a story that flows. Those of you who know Mexico will see all sorts of true reflections of that diverse, troubled land as you read. You’ll find yourself nodding along in understanding of those strange and wonderful customs and beliefs described which are found nowhere else. You might even learn a few new tidbits.
Set during the turbulent years just prior to the Mexican Revolution, in Sonora, Mexico, the story centers on Teresita, the illegitimate daughter of the ranch owner, Tomas Urrea, and a 14-year-old indigenous servant, Cayetana Chavez. The author’s imaginative story about Teresita’s early life is absolutely riveting.
Teresita lives with her aunt after her mother abandons her as a child. Then Teresita is trained by Huila, the ranch’s curandera (healer) after she is rescued from the aunt’s abuse. She suffers a fit of some sort as a teenager after an attempted rape, which gives her divinely inspired healing powers once she recovers.
As the legend of her healing ability grows, the indigenous patients she treats begin to venerate her as a folk saint. This angers both the Catholic church and ruling dictator Porfirio Diaz. Eventually, her notoriety becomes so powerful that she and her father are exiled from Mexico.
Her story north of the border continues with Queen of America.
If you’d like to read more about this fascinating woman’s life, you can do so here.