A pilgrim’s progress
BookPage Fiction Top Pick, December 2011
It took Luis Alberto Urrea 20 years to write his mystical bestseller, The Hummingbird’s Daughter, which was released in 2005. Lucky for readers, it did not take him nearly as long to return to his beloved heroine Teresita in this captivating sequel, Queen of America. 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.
This book picks up where The Hummingbird’s Daughter left off, at the turn of the 20th century. Following the catastrophic Tomochic rebellion, mystic Teresita (“The Saint of Cobora”) is banned from returning to Mexico. Together with her lush of a father, she traipses from one state to the next, hiding out from deadly assassins. But it’s not only the Mexican government that is after her. Many are desperate to find Teresita, whether they are attempting to kill her, exploit her as the spiritual leader of the Mexican Revolution, or simply be physically cured by her.
While Teresita’s bawdy father attempts to drown his loneliness in liquor, Teresita encounters and befriends two dashing brothers, a surrogate mother, some medical charlatans and a sociopathic singer who holds both lust and murder in his heart. Torn by her familial bonds and her allegiance to her lover, Teresita must figure out how she can handle both saving the crowd and indulging her romantic whims.
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.