The making of a young medicine woman in 19th-century Mexico. Urrea,
a Mexican-American best known for his prizewinning nonfiction (The
Devil's Highway, 2004, etc.), has based his leisurely account on
the life of an ancestor. Cayetana Chavez is 14 when she gives birth
to Teresita, the future healer. Cayetana herself is known as the
hummingbird, God's messenger, and even more auspicious is the red
triangle on her child's forehead. Teresita's birth takes place on
one of the four ranches belonging to Tomas Urrea (the author hasn't
changed the family name), who is one of the Yori, or white masters;
his Indian cowboys and fieldhands are the People, or, in the
author's compelling image, nails destined for the hammer. Teresita
is one of Tomas's many love children, and he will eventually
acknowledge her, for he has always been fond of the People and is a
decent man, despite his philandering. His story is interwoven with
that of Teresita, who is abandoned by her mother and abused by an
evil aunt until the old medicine woman Huila offers her protection.
In 1880, Tomas decides to move everybody north to another ranch
that will provide greater safety from the long-time dictator
Porfirio D'az (the political context is sketchy). Teresita, now 15,
comes into her own as midwife and healer-until she is raped and
apparently killed by a miner. After she comes back to life during
her own wake, the pilgrims start arriving by the thousands, though
Teresita denies she is a saint and the nonbeliever Tomas deplores
the invasion of his ranch. Eventually, the dictator D'az, getting
reports of an insurrection, orders the capture of Teresita and her
father. The 19-year-old healer's death sentence is commuted to
exile, and she makes a spectacular exit from the country. Only at
the end does Urrea fully evoke Teresita's incandescent spiritual
power-in a second novel (after In Search of Snow, 1994) that,
otherwise, is a mildly engaging look at life on a prerevolutionary
Mexican ranch, with amusingly irreverent touches. (Kirkus Reviews)
When sixteen-year-old Teresita, the illegitimate and beloved
daughter of a powerful late-nineteenth-century rancher, arises from
death possessing the power to heal, she is declared a saint and
finds her family and faith tested by the impending Mexican civil
war. By the author of The Devil's Highway.
|Country of origin:
Luis Alberto Urrea
||228 x 155 x 39mm (L x W x T)
Genre fiction >
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