The Hummingbird’s Daughter
Luis Alberto Urrea had a “flying Yaqui aunt” in Tijuana, Mexico, a woman who was said to be the mystical guiding force behind Mexico’s revolution. Teresita Urrea is born in 1873 with a red triangle on her forehead, a clear sign of a “healer” to the Yaqui healer, Huila. It is Huila who becomes the predominantly powerful force for Teresa, abandoned by her mother, almost beaten to death by her aunt, and raped at the age of 16.
But this book is not about Teresa’s tragic survival. The magical realism of Latin fiction reigns supreme in this fascinating novel where the sacred and profane realities of Mexico interweave into a multicolored tapestry of delight in everyday life. Plants have energy, the dead communicate joy and sorrow, warriors sing with the coyotes, and anyone can fly into a better world.
Forced by the tyrannical rulers of the day to migrate from the Mexican state of Sinaloa to Cordoba, the Urreas and their itinerant workers begin to sense the imminent destruction of those who refuse to bow to dictators who prefer the monetary favors of North America to the betterment of their own people. So the North becomes the place ready to unite rebels under one independent, free people who come to Teresita. She takes their pain into herself, and then God cures her. He also blesses their endeavor for independence, depicted with that magical realism approach, “A festive woodpecker sounded in the trees behind us, its industrious hammering representative of Nature herself bending toward the construction of a New Mexican Republic – God Himself putting Nature on the Diaz plan!”
This exquisite novel celebrates not only the political and religious realities of Mexican life but also the sheer love of life itself, bursting with love, hate, sex, war, peace, and passion personified.