I first saw this book, rather appropriately, in a shop window in Santa Fe. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful cover. I bought it as soon as I got home, though I hardly knew anything about it. I just had a feeling. Thankfully, my intuition didn’t let me down. The Hummingbird’s Daughter is a fantastic story of knowledge, power, faith, family, and healing. It is also a story of Mexico, steeped in history, wonderful food, cowboys, outlaws, and corrupt government officials.
Luis Alberto Urrea has written a grand story based on the life of his great Aunt Teresita. It is a wonderful tale of a woman achieving knowledge about her own gifts as well as the pain and power that accompanies such an endeavor, for Teresita’s gifts aren’t of the pedestrian variety. They are miracles and mysteries, the kind that illicit the distrust of the government and devotion of the masses.
As we watch Teresita grow up, learning the ways of the curandera, we also watch Mexico change. There are new people and new ways of living: some of which are simple, like the difference between a corn tortilla and wheat, others undermine and uproot all that has been known – like the simple dusty life in small rural towns.
It is part history, part fairy tale, and entirely absorbing and interesting. I learned much about our neighbor to the south while also exploring what it means to have incredible faith and devotion. As someone who is deeply spiritual but hardly religious, I enjoyed learning about the Mexican traditions that combine a bit of mysticism with Catholicism.
Thankfully, too, the text is beautifully crafted – easy to read, full of humor and wit, very easy on the eyes. I hope you think so, too.