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Teresa of the New World

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  27 reviews
From the bestselling author of An Obsession with Butterflies comes a magical story of America in the time of the conquistadors.

In 1528, the real-life conquistador Cabeza de Vaca shipwrecked in the New World, where he lived for eight years as a slave, trader, and shaman. In this lyrical weaving of history and myth, the adventurer takes his four-year-old daughter Teresa from
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Yucca
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Sharman Russell I never answered this question? I just saw it, actually. I'm just learning to navigate Goodreads! Hi, Tara! I am not sure I found the process any diff…moreI never answered this question? I just saw it, actually. I'm just learning to navigate Goodreads! Hi, Tara! I am not sure I found the process any different in the actual writing--language or structure or anything like that. I think the content is different in terms of what compels or interests my inner child/teen. Not the angst of being middle-aged--those reflections about getting hearing aids at the age of sixty or being married for thirty-three years. Those just aren't pertinent. But this difference of subject matter and content doesn't feel all that constraining because there are so many other things to still write about, universal relationships we have with nature and with other people and with ourselves. I do feel liberated in writing YA, too, because I can write more easily using conventions of earth magic and magic realism. They are part of that world for me.(less)

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Peter Riva
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Walking with an American Indian girl - enlightening, thrilling, frightening and, in the end, so very wonderful.

Anytime you read a deeply researched book that takes you to thoughts, minds, memes and truths that you otherwise didn't know existed - well it is a real treat. This is posted as a YA book, but I loved it and I'm old(er). In Teresa we have a window on a very real past of our country and the indigenous peoples' lives, mores and spirituality. A lovely book, really lovely.
Sandy D.
This book is fantastic, in both the popular and archaic senses of the word. It is extraordinarily good or excellent, as Merriam-Webster and define fantastic - but is also “conceived of unrestrained imagination”, “marked by extravagant fancy”, and colored with “extreme individuality”.

Sharman Apt Russell takes one of the most interesting historical accounts of American colonial history as the jumping off point for her book of marvels. Spanish nobleman Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca,
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Is this grounded in Mexican culture? Is it based on fable? An author's note would have helped.

Shape-shifters try my patience.

None of the characters 'came alive.'

Lots of potential, but I turned pages out of obligation, not interest.
Andree Sanborn
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, june, kindle, ya
Teresa of the New World is a loving coming of age novel about Teresa and her adventures and journeys as she leaves her mother's tribe in the southwest of North America during the time of the Spanish conquistadors. There are touches of magic in this powerful book that transport the reader.

Teresa of the New World is rich in imagery: camp fires seen from above on a hill "flickered on the ground like fallen stars." And "he saw the shadows of shadows creeping into the compound." When I read
Brian Kindall
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Historical fiction too often feels like it’s written from the outside in. One gets a sense of the writer doing their research, poring over the minutiae, and then mechanically inserting notable facts into their story. TERESA OF THE NEW WORLD, by Sharman Apt Russell, is not like that. It’s more organic. It feels more like a book written from the inside out, as if it were being born before us as we read, as if the author was actually there, long ago, and is merely bringing forth an enthralling and ...more
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: standalone
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Per the above disclaimer, I wanted to like this book… but it just didn’t happen. In fact, had I not felt obligated to read it and review it, I would have considered DNFing it.

I just felt there was no point to this book. We spend the first forty pages or so with Teresa accompanying her father as he leads a pilgrimage of Native Americans across North America. Her father (a famous explorer) then aband
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
I thought I would love this book. After all it's a magical realism historical fiction story with a Native American main character. It sounds great.

Unfortunately I was very bored.

This story is written in third person perspective, but from a very distant perspective which meant that I never was able to feel connected to any of the characters. I just did not care about what happened to them.

I also feel like the author struggled to make this a novel. It probably would have worked well as a short
Shane Griffin
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Teresa of the New World is a fascinating coming of age tale told with great artistry and attention to craft. Russell uses magical realism to tell the story of a young girl, Teresa, who is abandoned by her father who leaves her behind at a Spanish fort. Teresa is forced to confront her feelings of abandonment while she is pulled between Christianity and her pagan beliefs. A plague decimates the population and Teresa survives. Teresa embarks on her journey of self-discovery with a horse and a were ...more
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
If you want to know what hallucinogenic drugs are like, but don’t want to suffer any ill effects, look no further, reading this book is exactly that.

I’m left a bit disappointed with this one. Teresa’s story didn’t really go anywhere. It was just an abstract, artistic, open-ended THING. I’m much more fond of the ideas that went into this than I am of the actual execution.

Too much urine, too much yucca, WAY too much prickly pear.
Elizabeth Fackler-Sinkovitz
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This Y/A novel journeys into a magical realism that animates the natural forces of Plague and Fear, presenting them as enemies for Teresa to outrun and outwit. By mastering a conquistador’s horse and pacifying a jaguar shape-shifter, Teresa manifests surreal abilities to conquer her world. The historically accurate plot portrays the fictitious daughter of the legendary, shipwrecked Spaniard, Cabeza de Vaca, as she accompanies him across the lowlands from Florida to Texas. Teresa has a flattened ...more
J.J. Amaworo
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This brilliant novel is based on the real-life Spanish conquistador Cabeza de Vaca, but he disappears early on, making way for his daughter, Teresa, to take center stage. She spends much of the novel wandering through a post-apocalyptic, plague-ridden landscape, trying to return to a wise woman who may bring succor.

This is The Wizard of Oz revisited, complete with a host of dazzling conceits: shape-shifting human-animals, a girl who converses with the earth, and Fear appearing as a black cloud.
Lorinda Toledo
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Compelling and fable-like story that celebrates a young girl's strength and meaningfully explores her biracial and bicultural experiences in an early Spanish colonial context. ...more
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Much awaited by fans of Sharman Apt Russell, Teresa of the New World does not disappoint.
Russell writes award-winning science books, articles, and imaginative prose. All her work – fiction and non-fiction -- is moving, aesthetically rich, respectful of her readers, and interesting throughout. Readers benefit not only from Russell’s poetic creativity and unique point of view but also from her renowned and diverse skill set as a researcher and citizen scientist who can weave what might otherwise b
Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a work of historical fiction, based on the exploits of the excursion of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in the New World. The ships landed near current-day Tampa Bay, Florida in 1528. Cabeza de Vaca along with three other survivors meet up with Spanish slavers in Mexico and become conquistadors, traders, slaves of and shamans of coastal Texas tribes.

However, it is not told from Cabeza de Vaca’s point of view, or the three survivors in his crew. It is told from Teresa, Cabeza de Vaca’s daughte
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In Teresa of the New World, Sharman Apt Russell crafts a powerful tale of transformation. In the midst of threatening and uncertain times, a young mestizo girl journeys to find her place in the new world. The allegorical connection that Russell makes between spiritual and physical transformation makes her novel a relevant experience for both younger and older readers.

The book shines in its details. Russell’s knowledge of the indigenous flora adds an indispensable authenticity to the narrative.
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic, unique piece of historical fiction. The author delves into the fascinating history of the Spanish conquistador, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who after being one of only four survivors from Narvaez's Expedition stranded in Florida, spent eight years living with native tribes, followed by years of traveling across North America in search of the Southwest Spanish Colonies. This is the fictional tale of Teresa, one of two children that de Vaca sired with a native woman. She is caugh ...more
This books reminds me of some of the historical YA literature I read in school, such as The Light in the Forest or The Witch of Blackbird Pond. The story is fictional, but is also rooted in historical fact. It gives young readers a look into how the Native Americans were treated by the Spanish when they arrived searching for gold and slaves to work their mines. It also gives readers a window into the mindset of the Native Americans of that time and place.

Teresa is the fictional bastard child of
What a gem of a novel! I enjoy historical fiction and even more, I loved learning about the time of the Spanish Conquistadors in America in Teresa of the New World. Sharman Apt Russell’s writing is beautiful and simple detailing the world of the slaves, villagers, shaman, storytellers, and traders through Teresa’s young eyes, mind, and heart. Teresa and her father travel in search of his long lost friends from Spain. The reader aches with the sorrow, pain,and suffering of those who are stricken ...more
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sharman Apt Russell tells an incredibly entertaining story with her novel, Teresa of the New World. The inclusion of the Spanish Conquistadors and the native tribes, many would have come in contact with when their journeys did not go as planed, is explained in a clever and intriguing manner. The characters are extremely well developed and the fantasy aspect of the novel turns this story into an epic journey.
The main protagonist is shown to be very clever and to have a strong connection with the
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Teresa of the New World is not your typical story, it's a story about the world and how things change, extinctions happen, people are cruel to each other, but ultimately it's about one girl who lived a terribly hard live and survived. Not only survived but survived with compassion for others. This was not your typical read and at times I struggled a little with the story. But I love unique stories, and this was truly a unique story, as I can not remember a time when I have read anything similar ...more
Shelley Muniz
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sharman Apt Russell has written a wonderful tale, fantasizing the life story of Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, one of the survivors of the Narvaez Expedition stranded in Florida in the 1500’s. The tale is told through the eyes of his Mestizo daughter, Teresa, and brings to life the issues of the times: Spanish colonization, slavery, and plague. The book highlights Southwestern myth and folklore through Teresa’s ability to communicate telepathically with the earth and the animals she encounters, inc ...more
Nov 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaway, hard-copy
I received a copy of this book as party of a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to the author for allowing me to read her work.

This book was very much unlike books that I typically read. Having said that, I enjoyed this very much. The writing was beautifully, descriptive and expressive. The story started a bit slow for my tastes, but yet was filled with many interesting elements. I was particularly enabled by the supernatural aspects of the main character's life. I loved how she was able to talk to
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-book
Sharman Apt Russell's spot-on young adult novel combines magical realism and coming of age tropes against a backdrop of historical realism--the very real perils of the 16th century world are not ignored in this YA novel. Russell has written an evocative work for all ages--readers identify deeply with the characters. I believe this is due in large part to Russell's careful attention to the characters' environments and interactions with the natural world. Readers of all ages will definitely identi ...more
Allen Johnson
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: From teens to adults.
Teresa is a deceptively complex novel. I intentionally chose the word "deceptively," for it is a book that can capture the imagination of an early teen, but also enthrall the most discerning adult reader. Like Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea or Steinbeck's The Red Pony, it is a book for all ages.

The mix of history and fiction--what is real and what is fantastic, what is physical and what is metaphorical--is captivating.

Perhaps most appealing is the spiritual depth of Teresa, listening to t
Michael Shaffer
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Mar 01, 2018
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I am pleased to be considered a nature and science writer and excited that my Diary of a Citizen Scientist was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing. The John Burroughs Medal was first given in 1926, and recipients include Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Barry Lopez, John McPhee, and many others. To be in such a list.

My recent nonfiction is Within Our Grasp: Childhood Maln

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“Now she could smell what the jaguar could smell, odors deeper and richer than anything she had experienced before, layers of smell she could read like Fray Tomás had read the words in her father’s book: the wet decay of leaves, the death fear of a mouse, the poisonous cloy of datura, water and mud and insects, the wind carrying the smell of other animals, the wind itself, and the girl, of course, always the girl with her juicy flesh. The girl smelled incredibly good. Should the jaguar do this? Should Teresa eat herself?” 0 likes
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