Queen of America
Teresita Urrea acquired her title of “Saint of Cabora” during the Mexican war known as the Tomochic Rebellion during the despotic rule of Porfiro Diaz in the mid-1800s, a vivid story depicted in The Hummingbird’s Daughter. It’s after the war now, and Teresita and her father, Tomas, have fled Mexico and will travel throughout America in the course of this novel.
But this is the story of a woman constantly fighting to live a normal life as a woman with desires for a home to settle in and a spouse to love and be loved by. At first that hardly seems the case, as her father spends his time reminiscing about his past glorious life as a respected, powerful Mexican ranch owner and the rest of it drinking and carousing with his friends and any female skirt that passes by. Teresita is annoyed by him, and he taunts her. The healing power she displays is actually the native Indian medicine she learned from an old friend as a child, coupled with the prayers she learned on becoming a Christian. She also realizes that those around her want her to foment another revolution in Mexico.
A large portion of the novel is taken up with how newspaper writers distort things she says and does, inflating her normal comments to superhuman dimensions. Finally, Teresita has a very brief, loving relationship, one that causes a break between father and daughter.
Perplexed at first, the reader cannot help but become increasingly respectful of this woman yearning to be ordinary but who is forced to live her days in a world where poverty, illness, and political machinations mold her into a projection of public and individual desires. Luis Alberto Urrea has again written a moving, complex, and yet worthy historical novel. Remarkable!