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The Hummingbird's Daughter Paperback – April 3, 2006
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
About the Author
Luis Alberto Urrea is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Award, an American Book Award, a Western States Book Award, and a Colorado Book Award, and has been inducted into the Latino Literary Hall of Fame. He lives in Chicago.
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I have read (since reading this book) that Mr. Urrea has won all these awards and has a lot of 5 star reviews - so my additional review really won't add much. But I will say a few things about it "just because".
The only thing I felt that was difficult in reading the book (on my Kindle) was that there are frequent words or sentences written in Spanish - a language that I don't know. So I thought while reading that I wished I did know how to pronounce certain words & also it would be wonderful if I knew what they meant. Yes, I could look them up on my computer - but that kind of interrupts the flow of the book. So I didn't.
However, when I began the sequel (yes, there is a book after this one) I decided to get the audio version so that I could listen to it being read (by Mr. Urrea himself) as I read along with him. That made a world of difference to me. I did learn how names & places were pronounced. And the book really came alive in listening. I highly recommend using the immersion reading feature with Kindle. In fact I bought the audio book for this first book too & will go back and re-read it as I listen to Mr. Urrea read it. That's how much this feature helped make my experience enhanced.
As you have probably already read before, this book has what I'd say 2 main characters. Teresita Urrea also called the Saint of Cabora...and her father Tomas. They live in Mexico. It starts when Teresita is a small child and living basically in squalor. Her mother takes off and basically abandons her child. Teresita has no idea who her father is. When she's much older she does find out along with her father; because he didn't know she was his daughter.
Both these books follow along with these 2 main characters and a lot of "extras" that you get to know. Teresita develops into a young person who is able to heal people. Consequently she draws many people to her that want to be healed. Everywhere she goes these people follow her. The crowd gets larger and larger and create lots of problems.
Eventually she and her father are kicked out of Mexico and they flee to America for refuge leaving their home and loved ones behind. That's where book 2 picks up.
When I was reading this book I had no idea there was a 2nd book. At the end I was sad because I missed hearing about the 'rest of the story'. Then I found out there was a sequel and I was over-joyed.
This is one of those books that is based in fact and there was a lot of research done to find out about this legendary Saint. However, much of it is also fiction I'm sure because nobody knows what people said to one another. So the author has filled the gaps in history to make a cohesive story. At least that is my understanding of it. And I love the way he writes. So much description was used. You could hear & smell & feel everything that was going on. One time in the story when he was telling about how Teresita was dirty and barefoot - he explained it down to the 'T'. It made me feel dirty and in need of a bath too. I felt like I was right there with her.
Well, that's all I'm going to say about it. I can't imagine anybody not liking this book. It's so unique and so well written. Mr Urrea deserves all the awards he gets. I'm so glad that I accidentally found these books and this author. I will continue reading whatever he writes.
Thus begins an extraordinary tale at once mundane and magical. It draws in politics, history, and spirituality, but is at its core a human story full of richly realized, believable characters. The reader comes to know all the characters as if experiencing the world from inside their skin; the author seems to be able to think his way alike into men and women, the educated and the ignorant, tribal people and Europeanized ones. The spiritual-magical elements seem as real to us as the physical aspects of human existence, and these worlds are both in dynamic tension with each other and interpenetrating.
The language of the narration is beautiful, unfolding in precise yet evocative phrases. And I took particular pleasure in much of the dialogue, which went far toward establishing the unique presence of each character. The exchanges between Huila and Teresita, especially, were a continual delight. The arc of the protagonist’s moral and spiritual journey, too, was satisfying; knowing when to end a tale is a gift few authors possess.
I read the novel without knowing whether the people and events depicted were historical or invented. In the end it made no difference to me; though when I read the note at the end and learned that the characters were nearly all real and many were even members of the author’s family, hide spoiler I was further impressed.
The one thing I did not love was all the focus on bodily functions. Blood, piss, human odors, etc. were a constant presence. I’m not squeamish, but this emphasis seemed otiose. This sort of description is sometimes a crutch used by authors seeking to evoke a realistic world; but I have always considered it a simulacrum of reality, and that true realism lies in the minds, hearts, and actions of the characters. That aside, I found myself captivated and absorbed in the world of the novel, and was moved by the story at every stage. A very impressive historical novel.
But soon I was swept away by Urrea's broad, clear, descriptive descriptions of these characters lives.
His writing can only be called beautiful, flowing, pulling me away from my world and into the world of the Hummingbird's Daughter's world.
Don't miss this incredible story. Relax, let yourself flow and enter this incredible novel.
Think Gabriel Garcia Marquez mixed with a dash of Cormac McCarthy.
Most recent customer reviews
This book already has so many wonderful reviews that I'm not sure what I could...Read more