Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

This is my first book review for my first book challenge :)

This book is haunting. I think that's the only word I can find for it right now. The characters are swirling around in my mind and I am trying to make sense of them. Teresita is a child born into poverty, given up by her mother, raised on a rancho in Mexico. She soon begins to learn the arts of a curandera (a healer) - and she also discovers that she is the child of a fling between her mother and the head of the rancho.

I loved following her life - as she learns the art of childbirth and healing, I believed it. I loved the relationship between her and her father, Tomas, I loved how it ebbed along as events unfolded. My favorite part in the book was when her father helped her to clean the sores and kill the lice out of an orphan's head wounds - I was moved to tears to see how she had softened the heart of her brute of a father. I was especially touched by his fierce loyalty to her in the end - it felt truly redeeming.

The book took me to places I had not imagined when I opened the first page. Granted, it was not always a lovely place - it was a hard and violent life out in the wilds of Mexico, and, frankly, so full of unfamiliar names for me to remember!!! My complete lack of Spanish was a challenge, since rarely was anything translated, but I don't think I really missed anything.

The time and place was made so real for me - I have read very little of Mexico, but this rang so TRUE. The book felt so completely researched - all the descriptions of places and, especially, the food they ate. I was truly transported to the Mexico of the late 19th century.

It reminded me a lot of One Hundred Days of Solitude, which I loved as well - but I love this for different reasons. The "magical" of this book seemed somehow sacred, somehow real to me, not like magic at all - more like true acts of faith. Teresita's rise to sainthood was remarkable - I loved her as a character, for her strength, her faith, her true desire to only do God's will and to make peace where she could. The writing was lyrical and superb. An epic tale of an incredible girl.

1 comment:

bethany said...

I have this book, and have been wanting to read it...I should get to it. thanks for the review! I think the size is what has held me back.

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