Customer Reviews for

The Hummingbird's Daughter

Average Rating 4.5
( 44 )
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(24)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

A modern classic

Among the many outstanding qualities of Luis Urrea's magnificent novel, The Hummingbird's Daughter, is that the story is substantially true. It is based on the historical record of his great aunt Teresa Urrea. The dialog and the personalities have been reconstructed, bu...
Among the many outstanding qualities of Luis Urrea's magnificent novel, The Hummingbird's Daughter, is that the story is substantially true. It is based on the historical record of his great aunt Teresa Urrea. The dialog and the personalities have been reconstructed, but anyone who cares to research the matter as I have will learn that the incredible life of the Hummingbird's daughter, Teresita Urrea, is accurately depicted. Born out of wedlock to an illiterate Indian mother, she has no idea that her father is Don Tomás Urrea, rich landowner and freethinker in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. At about age six she is taken under the tutelage of an elderly Indian healer named Huila, whose name means ¿hummingbird¿ in the Indian language. From her Teresita learns the uses of healing plants and prayers and discovers an even greater gift: she actually has the power to heal by her touch. This causes problems. The ranch becomes crowded with thousands of pilgrims bearing the most pitiful ailments and afflictions, and the Mexican government, watchful to suppress any threats to its power, is suspicious of her growing fame. The shattering climax of the story calls that old cliché to mind: you can't make this stuff up. It wasn't! Unbelievable as it is, it happened. The Hummingbird's Daughter is the story of a girl coming to terms with her destiny, with the power of faith and miracles, and with a father's and daughter's discovery of what love is and the sacrifices it sometimes requires. The book is densely populated with cowboys, outlaws, wild Indians, men who drink too much, cantina beauties, mercy and cruelty, bravery and cowardice, and nature at its rawest. There are a fair number of Spanish words, untranslated, but these will not detract from the enjoyment of those who do not care to look them up. To add a historical note, the story is a wonderful snapshot of revolutionary Mexico along the American border. Finally, the prose style is marvelously poetic: easy to read, but magically evoking the character of Mexico in all its color and contradictions. The description of the various ways Mexicans prepare coffee as the sun dawns gradually across the country could be excerpted as a fine poem all by itself. I have read the book three times, and in its own way it has influenced my writing as much as Huckleberry Finn, with which it shares many qualities. I even bought a second copy to lend, so as not to risk my own, precious, annotated copy. I grew up in El Paso. Teresita lived there briefly, yet I had never heard of her. This is a shame: her story and this book deserve to be better known. Al Past is the author of the Distant Cousin series, reviewer for PODBRAM, and member of the Independent Authors Guild. He lives in south Texas. More about his books is at his DistantCousin dot net website.

posted by Anonymous on August 7, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Potential, but tiring

I checked this out from the library based on the reviews here. The basic story line is good, and I found myself interested in the characters. But the plot took so long to develop, it was an effort to stay committed. After halfway through the book, I realized I was sk...
I checked this out from the library based on the reviews here. The basic story line is good, and I found myself interested in the characters. But the plot took so long to develop, it was an effort to stay committed. After halfway through the book, I realized I was skipping paragraphs just to try and get to some activity. Beautiful, well-written langauge - colors and images are fantastic! But the plot just moves a bit too slowly for me.

posted by Anonymous on August 20, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2008

    Potential, but tiring

    I checked this out from the library based on the reviews here. The basic story line is good, and I found myself interested in the characters. But the plot took so long to develop, it was an effort to stay committed. After halfway through the book, I realized I was skipping paragraphs just to try and get to some activity. Beautiful, well-written langauge - colors and images are fantastic! But the plot just moves a bit too slowly for me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2014

    okay - so far

    I am only 1/3 of the way through and I am not inspired to keep reading. I go back to the book when I have nothing else to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2010

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    Posted November 2, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2010

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