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The Queen of Water

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  2,701 Ratings  ·  526 Reviews
In this poignant novel based on a true story, Virginia's story will speak to anyone who has ever struggled to find his or her place in the world. It will make you laugh and cry, and ultimately, it will fill you with hope.

Born in an Andean village in Ecuador, Virginia lives with her large family in a small, earthen-walled dwelling. In her village of indígenas, it is not unc
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
There's a sad task every librarian must attend to, and that is the weeding of books that are not circulating. My comrade in books, Nancy, found this one languishing in the young adult section. On our shelves since April of 2011, this title has never gone out. Never. I took pity, and decided to bring it home with me.

I only wish I had liked it more.

Virginia was born in an Andean village in Ecuador. Her people were called indigĕnas by the mestizos, or Spanish descendants, and treated as second cl
May 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
I'm so conflicted about this book.

There's a lot of good in it, and there's a lot I learned from it. It shows a great deal of the conflicts that Maria Virginia went through, not just external, but internal. While I can't sympathize with all of her struggles, I can definitely sympathize with feeling like you're trapped between two worlds in terms of culture. At least I've always had a chance to chose how I want to identify and how involved I can be in my culture. After all the horrifying abuse Mar
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Oops, I finished already. I could just never tell what was going to happen and I HAD to keep reading.

In some ways this reminds me of certain books that were popular with kids in middle school (and, as I understand it, still are)--slightly graphic, exploitative books about abused children, sometimes memoirs. (Come to think of it, those are popular with adults, too.) I say that ONLY to point out that I think there's a big audience for this book, which I wasn't expecting at all. This book is the op
Apr 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Melody by: Wendy Burton
This is both an extraordinary story and an extraordinarily well-written one. The book tell the true story of Virginia, who is more or less sold into slavery when she's only seven, and what happens to her over the course of the next ten or so years. This is not a long-ago story, either.

Parts of it are very hard to read, especially if one is easily bruised by gratuitous cruelty. Parts of it are like what one imagines surfing on the back of a dolphin would be like, purely joyful. There are a lot of
I have the privilege of knowing both these ladies and I am absolutely thrilled that they had the opportunity to work together and create this amazing novel. For anyone who is interested in how close this is to the truth, Maria says it's 98% truthful. The novelization occurred to make the story more readable and easier for readers to relate to.

Maria Virginia is one of the most remarkable women I've ever met - her story does not end with her achievements in the book. In fact Laura says that one t
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
I gave this book 4 stars but it really is a young adult book. I think it would be amazing for young girls to read it as teens or preteens, because the way Virginia overcomes all the obstacles put in her way to become educated and then comfortable in her own skin is so inspiring. I loved her inner thoughts and the fact that it is based on her real life makes it all that much more interesting. The issues of race, class, and background are all woven into the story in a setting, Ecuador, that i had ...more
Sep 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
Based on the true story of a seven year old Indian girl in Ecuador sent to work for a cruel couple as a virtual slave, the novel is emotional and upsetting. Her story is rather unbelievable as she cares for an infant and keeps house for working parents at such a young age. This happens in other parts of the world and is not unique. As she matures, her situation must change. The story is skillfully constructed and not told in a chronological fashion. It is a moving story of a bright girl who ove ...more
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I actually wasn't that excited about reading this book, my friend insisted that I should and I'm really glad I did. It was beautiful, I never knew what was going to happen and that made me always wanting to continue reading it until it was done. And it was beautiful, again. My emotions were totally moved with the stream of pleasant and unpleasant events. I'd just say, for the third time: it was beautiful.
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-fiction
Honestly, I only picked this book up for a challenge. The title, cover, and summary of the story didn't interest me at all. I'm glad I decided to read it though, because this book was awesome. The fact that it's based off of someone's life and she helped write the book made me love it even more. If there ever was a second book about Maria Virginia Farinango, I would read it in a heartbeat.
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
There were not many highlights in this book,with the exception of the main character. I personally did not get any poignant message for it. Even though it was based on a true story,the content of the story was simply forgetable.
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The book is a cheerful, first-person narrative of how Virginia, an indigenous girl in Ecuador, is taken away as a slave by a middle-class Spanish family, and how she manages to overcome the odds that are stacked completely against her. While the book does talk about her many successes and eventual triumph [spoiler alert!], there is certainly an element of suspense as the reader is constantly left to wonder as to what could happen next. The first-person narrative style of the book makes this effe ...more
Kathy Hiester
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Queen of Water is a heart wrenching tale by Laura Resau. The main character, Virginia, was born in a large but underprivileged family in an Andean mountain village in Ecuador. Society is divided sharply between the working native Indian people and the governing descendants of Spanish conquerors. At age 7, Virginia is sold to be a servant to a wealthy family. For eight years she endures her enslavement which includes malevolence and thrashings but she is determined to make something better of ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had to read this book for my Spanish class and I was thinking that it was just another boring book they make you read for class, but it wasn't. This book was really interesting and sad at parts and it really makes you appreciate the life you have. Even when Virginia's life was at it's lowest point, she always had positive thoughts in mind and tried her best to be happy.
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Edging 4 stars.

Books have the capability of opening the door for us into a whole new culture. And by showing it to us through the eyes of a person that belongs in that culture, it offers us a more authentic, engaged look of it. The Queen of Water achieved exactly that, while providing us an intricately compelling storyline. Yet although it excelled with its captivating narrative, it fell a little short with its pace, at times feeling choppy and rushed.

Virginia lives in Ecuador, where two promine
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Lucy.W by: No one
To begin with, a novel like the Queen of Water was never a book I intended on reading. It was half way through my freshman year, 5 minutes into class when my English teacher Mrs. Trammel began to count down. There was only one reason for this and it was the 10 minutes of silent reading rule. Now, of all days today was the day I decided I could live without a good solid book weighing down my backpack, much to my misfortune. I glanced around the classroom in horror scrabbling for a book, anything ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-release, ya
This is somewhat like a fairytale... in the end anyway. The beginning, not so much.

Virginia comes from a very poor Indian family in Ecuador. References to the tv show MacGyver had me thinking her childhood was the 1980s and I was surprised by how very backwards Ecuador was. Virginia doesn't even know her birthday. Her family lives in a dirt hole basically. They work themselves to the bone for the white man who come sand steals their children and make them into slaves.

Virginia is forced to be a
Brianne Durrant
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Queen of Water" is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. This book is about the rivalry of two tries, the Metzos and the Indgenias. María was born on a poor farm, where her parents worked for the Metzos, who are rick. They wear expensive clothing, live in apartments, and own a car. Their language is Spanish and most people respect them. The Indgenias on the other hand, are poor farmers who live in mud huts. They spend hours farming, so their skin is cracked. Most indgenias are illit ...more
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
I just finished an amazing book called the Queen of Water. The Queen of Water is about a young girl named Virginia Farinango who was born in an Andean village in Ecuador. Virginia lives with her poor family in a small mud hut. In her village it is not uncommon to work in fields all day long, even as a child. It is also very common to be called longa tonta (stupid Indian) by members of the ruling class of mestizos, or Spanish descendants. When, at the time, seven-year-old Virginia is taken from h ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Although teens may not initially be excited to read this story about a culture very different from our own, I thought this was a fantastic book that kept my attention from cover to cover. The story is set in Ecuador and spans the life of main character Virgina from age 7 until her teen years. Virginia is an indigena in her country and as such is expected to be poor and ignorant, which is the case for her parents. When Virginia is 7, she is "sold" (She is narrating the story and never fully under ...more
Mar 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
"The Queen of Water," by Laura Resau opened my eyes to some of the problems of racism and classism in Latin America.

A novel based on a true story, "The Queen of Water" tells the story of Virginia, a little girl who is taken from her dirt-poor indigena family in mountainous rural Ecuador to be, basically, a slave to a slightly wealthier couple. To Virginia, who is only seven at the time, it's never clear whether she was sold, taken, or given away. She just knows that she is a housekeeper and chil
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Head to your trusty thesaurus when you're trying to describe this book because you'll need plenty of adjectives to express just how excellent it is. This story of a seven-year-old indigenous girl whose parents allow her to be hired out as a servant to another family in Ecuador is heart-rending and riveting. Although Virginia has ambitions for the future and has been assured that she can visit her family each month, that never happens. Over time, she loses her language and cultural connections as ...more
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A compelling, first person narrative coming-of-age story that begins with the narrator, Virginia, an indigenous girl in Ecuador about six years old, being taken from her family to be a general house servant to a lower middle class mestizo family. We learn a lot about how class consciousness and racism are embedded in the culture on many levels, but the specific sufferings and injustices of our heroine are counterbalanced by the assertive child's determination to look out for herself and her drea ...more
Erica T
Nov 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful story of a young Ecudorian girl basically sold into slavery by parents who were poor and considered low class because they are of Indian descent (as opposed to Spaniard descent). The family who takes Virginia into their home treats her as a slave and expects perfection of household and childcare duties despite her young age. The disadvantages Virginia faces seem insurmountable, and this book takes you through the story of her childhood/adolescence and how she overcame so many challenge ...more
Reviewed at:

4.5 stars

The Queen of Water reminds me of Sold by Patricia McCormick. It is one of those books that you begin reading and you hope that it takes place a hundred years ago, but then throughout the book, you begin to realize that it only took place a decade or two ago. Virginia is an indigenous girl living with her family in a small village in Ecuador. When she is only about 5 or 6, her parents sell her to a rich mestiizo (Spanish) family with t
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
A biographical novelized version of Maria Virginia Farinango's life in an Andean village in Ecuador, the book follows Virginia from age 7 to 16 -- a topsy turvy life from scrapping at her parents hut to being an unpaid household servant for a professor and dentist back to the village and then onto a prestigious school. The book's real theme is the story of ambition and determination as Virginia seeks to throw off her indigenous roots to assimilate in the ruling class of mestizos/Spanish descenda ...more
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down and finished it in one afternoon/evening. While Virginia experienced some terrible things, I felt the author shared these experiences truthfully without being too graphic. The book brings up so many things to think about - poverty, literacy, prejudice, resilience, parent/child relationships, cultural identity, self-discovery, etc. I'm really excited to discuss the book at book club. Because this is based on a true story, the author commented in ...more
Carrie Gelson
Thank you to Kellee and Ricki for recommending this book to me. It is a fictionalized novel based on the actual experiences of Virginia as a young indigenous girl growing up in Ecuador. As it happens in many poor indigenous families, Virginia is basically given away to "work" for a wealthier family. It is a stolen childhood full of many hardships and much cruelty. Virginia's spirit is incredible. I don't want to give story elements away but will say that culture, family and identity are beautifu ...more
Lance Smith
Mar 10, 2015 rated it liked it
I think that this book is a good book especially if you're learning about power because it deals a lot with racial power. For example the Doctorita is one of the mestizos, a descendant of a Spanish person. She controls Virginia(the main character) and treats her more like a slave and not a person, only because Virginia is an Indigenas, a descendant of the Aztec people.
This book relates to real life because it has the ideas of racial differences, family problems and identity issues. I think that
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was amazing (thank you Laura, for sending it to me!). It was such a fascinating look at identity in places with suppressed indigenous populations. The journey this woman took to go from enslaved to free was frank, painful, and inspiring. Most interesting to me was how she really delved into the feelings of fear and shame that keep people in enslaved situations. Most inspiring was her description of re-awakening to her indigenous Quecha culture.
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really didn't know if I would like this book. I am the type of person who hates racism. But this book was about so much more then that. There were times I just wanted to throw my phone in frustration and anger because no one should ever be treated the way Virginia was. But I was also angry about how she felt about her family and home. It was still one of the best book I have read in a while. I would recommend this book to anyone.
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Class of 2015: The Queen of Water 2 6 Nov 16, 2014 10:13PM  
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I'm the author of the young adult novels The Queen of Water, Red Glass, What the Moon Saw, The Indigo Notebook, The Ruby Notebook , The Jade Notebook, and the middle-grade novels Star in the Forest and The Lightning Queen. My novel Tree of Dreams is coming in March 2019 with Scholastic. I grew up in Maryland, then moved around for ten years (as student, ESL teacher, and anthropologist), making my ...more
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“And I feel like the Queen of Water. I feel like water that transforms from a flowing river to a tranquil lake to a powerful waterfall to a freshwater spring to a meandering creek to a salty sea to raindrops gentle on your face to hard, stinging hail to frost on a mountaintop, and back to a river again.” 23 likes
“I see that if you try to fit someone in a box, she might slip through the seams like water and become her own river.” 9 likes
More quotes…