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Queen of America: A Novel Hardcover – November 28, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews



"'Who is more of an outlaw than a saint?'" one of Luis Urrea's characters poses. The answer is this ferocious, ribald romance of the border. Jaunty, bawdy, gritty, sweet, Queen of America has a bottomless comic energy and a heart large enough to accept-even revel in-all of human folly."―Stewart O'Nan, author of Emily Alone and Songs for the Missing

"A magnificent work of literary alchemy, so masterfully infused with myth and history, you will feel these characters in your heart, your gut. You will grieve for their immortal souls."―Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

"Enchanting...Fantastical...Urrea has stitched a seamless end to the saga."―Mythili G. Rao, New York Times

"Lively and beautifully composed...Urrea's novelist descendant conducts the new book in as striking a manner, deploying the passion of a visionary, making music with his phrases, evoking a world in the ebullient manner of antique storytellers while employing effective modern narrative techniques. This sequel is a world in itself, with the spiritually gifted Teresita...The novelist's powers work their way in this entertaining and intelligent historical fiction, studded with delights, rich in image and metaphor, the voice strong and at the same time comforting as it creates a universe replete with a multiplicity of characters, complete in body and soul. And as in the best of fiction, though the novelist himself is not physically present, his voice speaks worlds."―Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune

"Urrea has given us that rare breed of literary sequel, a story that will satisfy fans of the original while standing solidly on its own...The Hummingbird's Daughter [is] the magical, engrossing and too-crazy-to-be-anything-but-completely-true story of his great-aunt...[and is] a tough act to follow...but Queen of America is filled with wondrous, wide-eyed descriptions of life in the United States in the beginning of the 20th century...At once magical and corporeal, grounding and transporting."―Michael David Lukas, San Francisco Chronicle

"Queen of America magically spins a vibrant, larger-than-life fiction based on the "Saint of Cabora."―Vanity Fair

"Urrea delights in the texture of things. Turn-of-the-century America, particularly New York, comes alive at his fingertips: He sees both the silk and the mud... In imagining the story of his great-aunt Teresita, Urrea might have chosen to make her a hero; that would have been easier. What we get is more complicated, more modern... Hers is the story of what it means to have a gift, and how a talent can also be a burden."―Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times

"Colorful [and] exuberant."―Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

"I am happy to report, a bit wet-eyed, that this new work holds its own, cleverly written so that a reader could take up the saga here...Urrea's touch with secondary characters is Dickensian; his long years of research into remote time and place inspires our surrender. Best of all, perhaps, is the sensual, musical prose set to English. Urrea dances along the fertile crescent between Spanish and English...Queen of America reads like a thrill, and in its conclusion feels like a blessing...The magic made here is all Luis Alberto Urrea's own―Karen R. Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Captivating...With deft humor and a poetic lyricism that seamlessly folds one scene into another, Urrea unfolds the story of his real-life great-aunt Teresita, a teenage saint who was known for healing miracles... Each scene in Queen of America unfurls gracefully like delicate wisps of smoke. Whether Teresita is being held captive in Northern California by a band of profiteering medical professionals, or being feted like a queen in New York's social circles, this epic novel paints a portrait of America-and its inhabitants-with grace and style. It will spark fire in readers' hearts."―Megan Fishmann, Bookpage

"A gritty, bold, and much-anticipated sequel to The Hummingbird's Daughter... Fiercely romantic and at times heart­breaking but also full of humor, Urrea's latest novel blends fairy tale, Western adventure, folk tale, and historical drama. Fans of Hummingbird and readers new to Urrea's work will surely enjoy this magnificent, epic novel."―Library Journal

About the Author

Luis Alberto Urrea is the author of, among other books, The Devil's Highway, The Hummingbird's Daughter, and Into the Beautiful North. Winner of a Lannan Literary Award and Christopher Award, he is also the recipient of an American Book Award, the Kiriyama Prize, the National Hispanic Cultural Center's Literary Award, a Western States Book Award, a Colorado Book Award, an Edgar Award and a citation of excellence from the American Library Association. He is a member of the Latino Literary Hall of Fame.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (November 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316154865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316154864
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,004,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Evelyn Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What happens after a beautiful, young Mexican girl, born illegitimately of a poor, illiterate Yaqui Indian woman and a wild, wealthy and highly respected Mexican rancher, rises to sainthood? What happens after her people elevate her as a great healer, an Indian warrior queen and a revered mother of revolution? What happens after the young, saintly woman experiences such a powerful spiritual opening as coming back to life after death? Is she forever free of the constraints of human life? Is she eternally happy and forever holy living atop the sacred, high pedestal upon which her suffering people, the tribes of indigenous Mexicans, have placed her? Does she no longer have to struggle with life and love, personal relationships and family dynamics, betrayal and exploitation, pain and suffering? Will she be challenged and influenced, changed and redefined by exile from her homeland?

The answers to these questions unfold stirringly in Queen of America: A Novel, the much awaited sequel story of the Saint of Cabora, the very real Teresa Urrea,(who just so happens to also be a distant relative of the novel's masterful author, Luis Alberto Urrea).

For those readers who have read and adored The Hummingbird's Daughter, Queen of America: A Novel is the natural follow-up novel to Teresa Urrea's remarkable story.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Like its predecessor, The Hummingbird's Daughter, Urrea's sequel, QUEEN OF AMERICA is a panoramic, picaresque, sprawling, sweeping novel that dazzles us with epic destiny, perilous twists, and high romance, set primarily in Industrial era America (and six years in the author's undertaking). Based on Urrea's real ancestry, this historical fiction combines family folklore with magical realism and Western adventure at the turn of the twentieth century.

It starts where the first book left off, and can be read as a stand-alone, according to the marketing and product description. However, I stoutly recommend that readers read The Hummingbird's Daughter first. The two stories are part of a heroic saga; you shouldn't cut off the head to apprehend the tale. You cannot capture the incipient magic and allure of Teresita without her roots in the first (and better) book. Urrea spent twenty years researching his family history, border unrest, guerrilla violence in the post-Civil War southwest, and revolution, so poignantly rendered in his first masterpiece.

At the center of both stories is the enigmatic and beautiful heroine, Teresita Urrea, named the Saint of Cabora by her legion of followers, when at sixteen, she was sexually assaulted, died, and subsequently rose from her coffin at her wake. She was denounced as a heretic by the Catholic Church but declared a saint by her devotees. An accomplished horsewoman and botanical shaman, she discovered the miracle of healing with her hands.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Rating: 3.5 stars

A Mexican school's web page dedicated to Teresa Urrea reads: "La Santa de Cabora" (the Saint of Cabora) and underneath in red letters it says, "esta persona no es una santa y no debe ser considerada como tal" (this person is not a saint and she should not be considered as such). This clarification is probably not a far cry from the warnings that the Catholic Church and civil authorities circulated back in Teresa's days.

In "Queen of America," Luis Alberto Urrea, a descendant of the Saint of Cabora, pieces together a fictional account of her life after she and her father were exiled by the Mexican government to the United States in 1892 and until her death in 1906. A quick search on the Internet reveals the many and contradictory faces attributed to Teresa Urrea: the political activist and revolutionary fighting for social justice, human rights and women's equality; the God-sent healer revered by the poor and destitute; and the legend churned out by the sensationalist press. In his book, however, Mr. Urrea chooses to depict Teresa as a human being, vulnerable and flawed, longing for the things normal girls would have at her age, pining for love, and making poor choices. His is not a portrait of a revolutionary trailblazer but of a woman who was rather the pawn of circumstances and the self-interests of others. For the first 3/4 of the book, Teresa may come across as a bland character and at times she seems to be the device by which the author could introduce the cameo appearances of historical figures. However, the novel is saved by Tomas Urrea, Teresa's father. He casts a much larger shadow in the book and enlivens the story. It is through Tomas that the readers gain a view on what it was like and what it meant to live with Teresa, the celebrity.
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