Queen of Americaby Luis Alberto Urrea
At turns heartbreaking, uplifting, fiercely romantic, and riotously funny, QUEEN OF AMERICA tells the unforgettable story of a young woman coming of age and finding her place in a new world. Beginning where Luis Alberto Urrea's bestselling The Hummingbird's Daughter left off, QUEEN OF AMERICA finds young Teresita Urrea, beloved healer and "Saint of Cabora," with her father in 1892 Arizona. But, besieged by pilgrims in desperate need of her healing powers, and pursued by assassins, she has no choice but to flee the borderlands and embark on an extraordinary journey into the heart of turn-of-the-century America.
Teresita's passage will take her to New York, San Francisco, and St. Louis, where she will encounter European royalty, Cuban poets, beauty queens, anxious immigrants and grand tycoons-and, among them, a man who will force Teresita to finally ask herself the ultimate question: is a saint allowed to fall in love?
author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
New York Times
San Francisco Chronicle
Los Angeles Times
Wall Street Journal
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"'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."
'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 ownKaren 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
- Little, Brown and Company
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Meet 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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As a first time reader of this authors work, I was quite surprised by Urrea's writing style. His Queen of America is definitely not what I expected, in fact it was better than I expected. The main character of this book, Teresita, on who the story is based, actually existed, although most of the book is fiction. Urrea has a pre-sequel to this book, which I have not yet read, however this did not affect my reading of Queen of America, as it did not read like a sequel. I actually was completely surprised to learn Teresita was actually a real healer in her time back in the early 1900's instead of a fictitious character. This I did not note until after I read the notes and acknowledgement section at the end of the book. Urrea's quirky style of writing and his list of characters remind me of a western-style movie with comedy scattered throughout. Teresita, her family, and friends are all characters one quickly feels comfortable with and the ongoing saga made it was difficult to put this book down. Being of Hispanic descent but not Mexican, I understood some of the Mexican words scattered throughout the book, while other times I had no idea what the word might mean. However, this did not in any way keep me from enjoying this book and I laughed out loud many times throughout this book. At other times it I was so caught up in the characters it was as if I was family. Teresita seems like the average poor Mexican, however, she also has a gift of what this generation may call healing of the hands. A term that back in the 1900's was considered by some to be witchcraft and at times she is ostracized for it. This book was an amazing adventure of love, laughter, pain and sorrow as Teresita lives her life, at times traveling across the continental United States. Urrea's words seem to carry you, when you feel the heat of the desolate desert or the scraping of the horse between your legs, while winding through the hills of Arizona. At other times you are riding on a windowless, dusty train through hills and valleys of the Old West with awe and wonder at the first glimpse of a creek bed or river, or maybe even the ocean. What may happen next? The wonders seem to never cease for what Teresita's next contingency may be. Yet in the end, Teresita finds exactly what she is longing for.
Reviewed by Anne B. for Readers Favorite The setting is Mexico, 1892, the Tomochic rebellion. Teresita Urrea’s people considered her a saint, and spiritual leader. The title Saint of Cabora embarrassed the humble young woman. Teresita was strong with a heart of gold. The people looked to her as their leader. Her very existence infuriated the Mexican government, who desired her death. She was born to a poverty stricken peasant, Cayetana Chavez, and a wealthy Mexican rancher, Don Tomás Urrea. She accrued the wrath of Porfirio Díaz when she encouraged the Yaqui Indians to reject the rule of the Diaz government. She was arrested and sentenced to death. Upon her escape, she and her father fled to Arizona for her safety. Even in the United States she was not safe. "The Queen of America" continues to share Teresita’s life and romance. I normally read very quickly devouring a book but in this instance I listened carefully to the CDs. I would turn the book off and think about what I’d just heard and then continue on. I savored the description of the plight of the people. The quality of the writing is magnificent, almost poetic. This tale will bring tears to the eyes of the most stoic reader. She was a normal woman elevated to “sainthood” by the people that needed a hero. All she wanted was a normal life. This is the second book in a series. The first book is the "Hummingbird’s Daughter". The two books are very different; the first is written in a flamboyant and lively manner while the second is more sedate and subdued. While I prefer to read books in the proper order, "Queen of America" stands well on its own. I believe the author is also the reader/narrator. His accent is perfect. He reads with just the right intonation. This book convinces me that Luis Alberto Urrea is a writer whose work will someday join other classics.
This book is a sequel to Luis Alberto Urrea's previous book The Hummingbird's Daughter and continues the saga of Teresita as she flees to America to escape the tyranny of the Mexican government's efforts to politicize her and denigrate her faith and her dedication to tending to the poor and sick peasantry. Told with a bit of irony and humor, the story is compelling and is a page-turner. Teresita, to the dismay of her father and the rest of her family, continues her ministrations to her devoted followers, now in America. During her mission of service, she is taken advantage of by shady American grifters eager to use her popularity and mystique among the poor and downtrodden for profit. This is a story of survival and redemption. I enjoyed the book immensely, especially Urrea's writing style, although I must say that if I hadn't read The Hummingbird's Daughter first, I might have been somewhat lost in understanding Teresita and the Urrea family.
The incredible journey in the United States of Teresa Urrea, "la Santa de Cabora," is conjured vividly by her relative, Luis Alberto Urrea. This novel continues the story he began with "The Hummingbird's Daughter." It combines real historical figures and events with vibrantly imaginative characterizations. Although the book is quite long, it is thoroughly engrossing. Anyone who enjoys E.L. Doctorow’s novels will probably love this. It gives voice and depth to Mexican-American and Indian history and life at the turn of the twentieth century. There is so much substance and interest here that it would be a great choice for book clubs. I'm going to recommend it for mine!
Urrea pens a masterful tale with richly developed characters. For me, Queen of American is even a better read than The Hummingbird's Daughter, perhaps because as Teresita matures into womanhood, we find a very beleiveable human being who only wants to be a woman and to serve God. Yet, she must move across the country as she seeks to survive and find some semblance of peace.