Posted by: istop4books | June 5, 2009

The Hummingbird’s Daughter

The Hummingbird's Daughter The Hummingbird’s DaughteViva La Santa de Caborar by Luis Alberto Urrea

Viva La Santa de Cabora

“For God, religions are nothing, signify nothing…Let us do good. Let us love. This is the only religion.” 


I just finished this gem of a book and I can’t thank Wingedman (from Bookcrossing) enough for sending it to me, because I had not heard of it and now it is sure to be one of my favorites of the year. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the background information, the history and the story itself and read and reread many of the passages just for the beauty of the language. I wish I had had a Huila in my life and would have loved to have met Teresita and the rest of the group. Loreto reminded me of a close relative.

This is a complicated story, based on the lives of ancestors of the author, researched and written over a span of twenty years, yet novelized. It reminded me very much of the works of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and if you have enjoyed their books, this one will also become a favorite, for sure.   It’s the story of Teresita, a young girl, given up by her 15 year old mother and handed eventually to a “curandera” Huile, the midwife, the medicine woman, of Don Tomas Urrea.  Teresita shows the signs of divine power and is groomed towards serving others.  As an half indian, she is very much in tune with the plight of the Mexican Indian, but she also realizes that she is of much lighter skin than they are and, therefore, probably half white. Through her dreams, her spirituality, her connection to her body Teresita heals – and she doesn’t seek this out, it just is.   Her powers, in turn, turn the surrounding villages upside down as so many of the poor, the sick and miserable seek her curative powers.  This in turn ruffles the feathers of organized religious as well as the state, who views  her as a threat.  

The lyrical prose allows you to travel back in time to 19th Century Mexico, to gently and subtly participate in the lives of these characters and become involved both with the revolt and with the daily affairs that take place under the silent watch of the plum tree in the courtyard. Religion and religiousness are treated in a very special way, not often seen in works of historical fiction which take place in a Catholic country.  Her message, one of love, will resonate with believers and non-believers for many years to come. 






One question I have. I am totally bilingual English-Spanish, the languages are equal to me. As I read, there were many bits in Spanish with no translation and I wonder how those of you who don’t read Spanish got through this? Did you ignore it or try to translate it, or could you get the gist of it from the context? While it was no problem for me and I noticed that in the other JEs no one mentioned it, I do wonder if it bothered anyone.

Wingedman, again many thanks for the RABCK. I will look for someone else who might really enjoy this type of book and send it along shortly.

View all my reviews.


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