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The Hummingbird's Daughter (The Hummingbird's Daughter)

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  8,053 Ratings  ·  1,236 Reviews
The prizewinning writer Luis Alberto Urrea's long-awaited novel is an epic mystical drama of a young woman's sudden sainthood in late 19th-century Mexico.It is 1889, and civil war is brewing in Mexico. A 16-year-old girl, Teresita, illegitimate but beloved daughter of the wealthy and powerful rancher Don Tomas Urrea, wakes from the strangest dream--a dream that she has die ...more
Paperback, 499 pages
Published April 3rd 2006 by Back Bay Books (first published 2005)
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Jeaninne Escallier Kato Absolutely. In fact, it's magical realm is especially enticing for adolescents who generally romanticize life. However, it is graphic with respect to…moreAbsolutely. In fact, it's magical realm is especially enticing for adolescents who generally romanticize life. However, it is graphic with respect to the harsh realities that are common within poor Indian communities. Another good reason for young people to read this book- cultural awareness. (less)

Community Reviews

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Jul 27, 2015 Perry rated it really liked it
Shelves: circle
Bella Melodía Mexicana de Santa de Cabor
4.25 stars

Mexican author Urrea's mystical mural of a tale following a female saint, known as the "Mexican Joan of Arc" ("Everything the government morally wrong"). Born the love-child of a young wealthy Mexican rancher and a poor Indian girl named "Hummingbird," who abandoned her shortly after birth, she was raped, beaten and apparently died at age 15 and came back to life.

Thereafter, she has near-messianic powers of healing as well as precogni
Jun 08, 2008 Joe rated it it was amazing
This was an outstanding book in every measurable way: great writing, great story, highly imaginative, and not shy in tackling substantive issues of life and death in turn of the century Mexico. A professor once defined "sublime" as a combination of the beautiful and the horrible, and I think the Hummingbird's Daughter fits this definition to a t. The story is both beautiful in its telling and horrifying in its description of the cruelty people bring to one another in pursuit of religion, nationa ...more
Cara Lee
Jul 10, 2009 Cara Lee rated it it was amazing
"The Hummingbird's Daughter" quickly made my list of 25 favorite books ever. Every one of the 20 years Luis Alberto Urrea spent on this story was worth it. There are few books I consider perfect, and this is one: Urrea deftly makes every word, comma, character nuance and plot twist seem straightforward and simple, yet there's so much going on here. He takes the barely sketched history of his aunt Teresita--the "Saint of Cabora" who helped inspire the Mexican revolution--and breathes life into a ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
This is a phenomenal, picaresque story. Teresa (Teresita) Urrea, the Hummingbird's daughter, possessed me, made me want to dig my bare feet in the earth and rub rose petals and lavender all over my body. She is now my beloved hero of contemporary literature. Strong, courageous, formidable, guileless, beautifully vulnerable, compassionate, quick-witted, and luminescent, Teresa is a modern-day *saint* without the dismal, pious sobriety of one. She is more like a noble iconoclast. She hikes up her ...more
Lisa Vegan
I really slogged through this. I’m not sure why I had such a difficult time reading it. I’m glad that I did. I ended up enjoying it but I wasn’t wild about it. It's well written, I liked some of the characters including Huila and Teresa; many of the characters were interesting, although often infuriating. I read as a skeptic but that shouldn’t have detracted from my enjoyment as it hasn’t with other similar themed books. The book was disturbing, violent and depicted many atrocities that humans c ...more
This is a marvellous book that I would recommend to everyone who:
Is a fan of Magical Realism
Is interested in Mexican History
Is intrigued by Catholic sainthood and
Wants to learn about “curanderas” (healers or medicine women)

Although parts of it, like descriptions of the extreme poverty, are very difficult to read, there is so much beauty in the book to balance it out. This compelling novel is based on the real life person Teresa Urrea, who was the great aunt of the author Luis Alberto Urrea. Urr
Sep 20, 2012 Zach rated it it was amazing
The thing that struck me most about The Hummingbird’s Daughter was its “campfire” quality. I imagined it being told by a particularly gifted grandfather. Urrea is no grandfather yet, but his pure storytelling ability is second to none. He creates beautiful rhythms in simple language. Each of his chapters is structured as its own little tale. He dispenses comedy and heartbreak in equal measures. And he doesn’t hold back, trusting his natural instincts to tell the story as the story itself begs to ...more
Sep 06, 2007 Deborah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone!
This book sucked me right in mostly because I loved the fact that Teresita, the young girl who becomes revered as a local saint in pre-revolutionary Mexico, was actually a relative of the author, Urrea. The way he imagines Teresita's life, and the lives of those around her, reminds me of hypertext - you're reading along, absorbed in a great character whose thoughts and actions are totally unique and amusing and endearing and rage-inspiring, and suddenly there's this whole other person branching ...more
Richard Derus
Jan 12, 2012 Richard Derus rated it did not like it
Rating: an irritated single star.

Someone needs to explain to me why this book is great. I don't think it's even good. It's The Song of Bernadette for the 21st century, written in prose as flat and featureless as the deserts it describes.

So very, very, very not recommended.

Sep 06, 2011 Chrissie rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, hf, magic, mexico, audible
This review has been revised on completion.

Teresita, the Hummingbird's daughter, existed. She is an acknowledged saint. In this book you learn about her life in Mexico, until she was forced to leave at the age of 19. You learn about Mexico (food, lifestyle, religious beliefs and customs) and about the Mexican Civil War that took place in the last decade of the 1800s. You learn about her role in this war. Teresita was a distant cousin to the author. Although based on known fact, it is a novel. T
Jan 13, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing
Certain authors excel at crafting gritty and realistic recreations of the world we live in; others are expert at transforming our world into a more magical and fantastical one. Luis Alberto Urrea, in an astounding feat of alchemy, does both. Within the novel’s sprawling 499 pages, his depiction of Teresita Urrea – his real-life great-aunt, anointed the “Saint of Cabora” – becomes increasingly intoxicating and unputdownable.

In a sprawling yet controlled epic, we meet Teresita – the illegitimate d
I still dream of this book. And a year later, I am still looking for this book, remade. Like an old girlfired or a wife now dead that will be the ideal all other women in a man's life are compared to. can I describe this...My last two years of undergrad, I focused primarily on Female Medieval Mystical Writers. I love how these women brought their faith into their bodies, and write from there...bringing god into themselves as a lover, a layer of skin, a wealt. I love their absolute con ...more
Sep 20, 2015 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Luis Alberto Urrea can read to me any time he wants to. Oy! What a voice and how well he reads. This book becomes magical with his voice.
Although presented as a book of fiction, there is much truth told from 20-years of research and family tales of a distant relative who became known as the "Saint of Cabora." A story that mixes pre-revolutionary Mexico with folk tales and a touch of magic realism. A wonderful ride.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This is a very interesting story about a real woman who lived in Mexico in the late 19th century. She was the author's great-aunt, and he grew up hearing stories and legends about her. Beginning in 1985, the author began twenty years of research leading to this novel.

Teresita was considered the "Saint of Cabora," although she did not think of herself in that way. She was born the bastard daughter of Don Tomas Urrea. At birth, she had a strange triangular mark on her forehead. The curandera said
Nick Iuppa
Jan 26, 2017 Nick Iuppa rated it it was amazing
The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Urrea is the true story of a strong-willed, teenage Mexican girl in the 19th century. She was said to have miraculous healing powers, inspired the common people to value their native identity, and in the end helped bring about the Mexican Revolution. Can't get over it. A poetic page-turner.
Aug 28, 2011 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Urrea pulls together two decades of personal research into the compelling story of a great aunt who became a sainted icon of the indigenous rebellion against the Porfiriato in late 19th century Mexico. The Hummingbird's Daughter paints a vivid, earthy, fearless picture of the insular rural world of the hacienda of his people, as well as of the nameless masses of "the People," his term for the Indian underclass that populate the background of the story and eventually swell like the tide. Urrea de ...more
Carl R.
May 16, 2012 Carl R. rated it it was amazing
Maybe I should recuse myself because I’m so partial to magical realism, but I think from any perspective whatsover, The Hummingbird’s Daughter is a joy of a book. Luis Urrea is dealing here not just with history, but the history and politics of his family and of his family’s native land.
So, family saga/historical fiction, politics, religion (“Even worse than politics,” says one Captain), revolution, and more. A rich mix that would defeat a lesser writer, but Urrea is unquestionably up to the ch
Chris Donaldson
Jul 31, 2012 Chris Donaldson rated it did not like it
I've just written a review and it's vanished into the ether, so this is a second try.

First of all, I didn't finish this book and this is extremely rare for me. Normally, |I feel like I have to stick it out to the last page but this one was too much for me. I know now, having looked at what other people have said, that so many people love this book that I am in a tiny minority. But truly, I disliked it enough to leave it about one third of the way through.

It was recommended by a friend and I rea
Jun 12, 2014 Paige rated it it was amazing
It always seems that I have more to say about books I'm criticizing than books I loved. I suppose it's because I usually begin with high expectations, and when a book lives up to those expectation, there isn't much to say, but when it doesn't there has to be a reckoning. This book is one of those great books about which I do not have much to say.

This book struck the perfect balance of realistic and dreamy. Urrea brought the setting to life for me, so real it felt like I could touch it. He weaves
Aug 03, 2009 Ariela rated it it was amazing
Set in late 1800’s Mexico amid the political turmoil of General Porfirio Diaz’s regime “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” recounts the real-life story of Urrea’s great-aunt Teresita. The illegitimate daughter of the patron and one of the indios working his ranch, Teresita eventually became known as Santa Teresa, the Saint of Cabora. Apprenticed to the colorful curandera (healer) Huila at an early age she eventually became known for her midwifery skills, healing powers and supposed return from the dead ...more
May 03, 2015 Lacy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first became fascinated by the Mexican healer Teresita Urrea when I heard a UTEP professor give a brief profile of her life. She recommended this novel, written by a descendant, and it's one of the most beautiful, fascinating, compelling books I've ever read. The plot covers her early life up through her exile to the U.S. It's an epic--nearly 500 pages long and frankly, I'd have been happy if it had gone on several hundred more.
Nov 24, 2012 Astrid rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Christine Connerly
Shelves: latin-america

"The world of reason must be a lonely place." This is a historical novel mixed with a generous dose of magical realism. Luis Alberto Urrea's imaginative telling of Teresita's life and the colorful characters who surrounded her seeped into my dreams. I have lived and traveled throughout Mexico and studied the nuances of Mexican Spanish which made this book especially vivid.
Oct 05, 2008 Linda rated it it was amazing
This is one of the finest works of fiction I have ever read. Mr. Urrea is an extraordinary story teller, and the Hummingbird's Daughter is an extraordinary story. This book is sometimes horrifying, sometimes hilarious, but beautifully written and utterly captivating. Five stars.
Mar 03, 2014 Shaun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Sometimes I wished there were more stars with which to rate a book. This is one of those times. This book is worthy of far more than five measly stars. Much more.

"The Hummingbird's Daughter" is about an actual person well-known in the border area of the great North and Central American desert Southwest: Teresita Urrea, Santa de Cabora. Teresita is no ordinary girl. Born to an illiterate, poor Indian mother, she knows little about her past or her future. Teresita has no idea that her father is Do
Abigail Bok
Apr 26, 2016 Abigail Bok rated it really liked it
In the second half of the nineteenth century, a little girl is born to a laborer on a large ranch in Sinaloa, Mexico. Her father is unknown and her mother soon abandons her, but she scrambles her way to survival under the eye of her aunt and a favored servant at the patrón’s house—Huila, the local curandera. The curandera, believing her marked with spiritual potential, begins to teach her what she knows.

Thus begins an extraordinary tale at once mundane and magical. It draws in politics, history,
Aug 29, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you have read 100 Years of Solitude and are looking for a dam good story in the vein of magical realism (yes its still alive), I highly recommend this book. if you want a good peak into Mexican history around the end of the 19th century, this is a good start.

This is the story of Teresita Urrea, "La Santa de la Cabora", who was not only a real person from Mexican history but an actual relative of the author, Luis Alberta Urrea. Yet, in Urrea's fictional style, I kept thinking what a great yarn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joyce Lagow

Teresa Urea was a historical figure who was born Sinaloa, Mexico, in the mid-19th century. She became nationally known as a healer (curandera) and vigorous defender of the rights of The People--the indigenous tribes of Mexico. She was widely held to be a saint--the Saint of Cobera, where she lived until she was 19. Her father, Tomás, was a wealthy landowner in the state of Sonora.

The author, who is related to Teresita, has written an absolutely remarkable novel around what facts are known of thi
Aug 06, 2014 Nick rated it liked it
In “The Hummingbird’s Daughter”, the Mexican-born writer Luis Alberto Urrea takes up the story of his great-aunt, the half-Indian seer who became known by the people, not the Church, as Santa Teresa of Cabora. Teresa lived during in Northwest Mexico, then one of the most disconnected regions of her poor, sprawling country, across the border from the harshest part of the Old West. As a girl, she emerged from a trance with gifts: she cured the desperately ill with herbs and the laying on of hands ...more
Based on the legend of Urrea's sainted cousin, the author uses historical fiction to bring 16 year old Teresita to life, during a period of violence and political upheaval in Mexico, near the end of the 19th century.

What I liked about the book: learning about Mexican culture, the civil war and some of it's causes, Teresita's early life and her relationship with her father. I am fascinated with the lives of saints, and was excited to learn that The Hummingbird's Daughter would chronicle such a li
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Luis Alberto Urrea is the award-winning author of 13 books, including The Hummingbird's Daughter, The Devil's Highway and Into the Beautiful North (May 2009). Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Luis has used the theme of borders, immigration and search for love and belonging throughout his work. A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005 (nonfiction), he's won the Kiriyama Prize (2006 ...more
More about Luis Alberto Urrea...

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