Sunday, May 27, 2007
The Hummingbird's Daughter by Louis Albert Urrea
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Teresa Urrea actually existed. She was born in 1873 in Sinaloa, Mexico, the illegitmate daugther of an Indian ranch worker. Later, she was acknowledged by her father, Don Tomas Urrea, the master of the rancho. She was also a cousin of Luis Alberto Urrea's great grandfather, who grew up hearing stories of the legendary Saint of Cabora. Early in his writing career, Urrea began researching his ancestor and, twenty years later, wrote this work of fiction. Since so many of the miracles, healings and mystic events are considered folklore, I considered this a great book to be included in this challenge. Whether you accept Saint Teresa's healings, miracles and her return from the dead as fact or not, this book is a truly fascinating story, beginning with Teresa's birth and following her to the age of nineteen. Urrea brings the characters to life in a way that makes them almost larger than life. Besides an in-depth study of Teresa herself, there is her philandering, but loveable father, Tomas; her instructor in the healing arts, Huila; her half-brother, Buenaventura; and the rancho foreman, Segundo, to name a few. It took a few pages for me to get into the story, but after that, I was hooked. Here's a couple of quote I marked:
>>>>>"You see," Huila explained, "this is how Heaven works. They're practical. We are always looking for rays of light. For lightening bolts or burning bushes. But God is a worker, like us. He made the world--He didn't hire poor Indios to build it for him! God's worker's hands. Just remember--angels carry no harps. Angels carry hammers."
>>>>>You cannot win your argument with God. You shake your fist at God, and you cry and curse Him every night in your bed. But you cannot win. In the morning, He is still there, waiting for you. All unbelievers are the same. You always thougth it made you different. You always felt unique. Above all the fools who followed God. But everyone who stops believing thinks he is the smartest one. You all compete with each other, not with God."
In an essay included at the end of the book, Urrea writes about his research experiences:
>>>>>I spent my boyhood thinking she was a myth, taking her place among all the demons, ghosts, apparitions, and cads, populating the crowded Urrea tall-tale arsenal. But as I discovered her historical trail, I found the documented events more astounding than the lies I'd heard in Tijuana. Here was a woman who could, according to the newspaper reporters from Mexico, the United States and Europe, heal the sick with a touch. While exuding the scent of roses, no less.
>>>>>"One of the first lessons Esperanza, a medicine woman descended from the Mayos, gave me was this: "White people think what we do is magic. It's not magic. It's science."
>>>>>"I tried. To listen and learn. I heard tales of miracles. I saw ghosts. I might even confess all that I saw when I get to know my readers better. But I never saw a single healing. But I learned of a deeper kind of healing. Something inexplicable. It has to do with serenity."
One of the curanderas in Cuernavaca told me, "if you do not want to join us in Teresita's work, then you must heal in the power of your own medicine. You must heal them with words. Literature is medicine too."
Posted by Framed at 9:49 AM
I've been interested in this book for some time, and haven't heard anything about it from anyone who's read it! Your 5 rating is going to convince me to put it on my TBR list. Thanks!!Happy Easter!
Tristi Pinkston said...
This sounds fascinating -- I especially liked that about angels carrying hammers. It's on my list now!
Lovely review. I bought this book after hearing Urrea speak at the Salt Lake book festival. It's been sitting on my bedside table ever since. You're review has encouraged me.
Carl V. said...
Sounds fascinating and also sounds like something my wife would really get into. I'll have to mention this one to her. Good review!