The Hummingbird's Daughter, Luis Alberto Urrea, Little Brown and Company, 2005, 495 pp
Here is another book I had on my shelves for quite a while. I bought it for the title. I proposed it for reading groups a few times (one of my strategies for getting to books on my shelves) but it was never picked.
I had mixed reactions. It took a long time to read and I was never dying to read it. Mostly I plodded along. But I liked the story, the characters and in the end he got me and I decided I liked the whole book. The ending was the best part but it wouldn't have been that good if it hadn't been for all that came before. Urrea's style is similar to Isabel Allende and a bit to Gabriel Garcia Marquez though without their magical sparkle. He creates his characters with empathy and humor. There was just something missing in terms of pulling the reader into the story.
Set in Mexico in the mid to late 1800s, it is the story of Teresita, whose father was a wealthy rancher and whose mother a lowly ranch worker, known as the Hummingbird. Teresita is abandoned by her mother and once she figures out who her father is, she worms her way into his household with her considerable wiles, where she is raised by a woman healer/midwife. Eventually Teresita becomes a symbol for the Mexican Revolution, though she is a passionate believer in non-violence.
I was glad I read it and learned new things about Mexico, but it sure was hard getting to the end.