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Queen of America: A Novel by Luis Alberto…
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Queen of America: A Novel

by Luis Alberto Urrea

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"Fresh Meat" by Clare Toohey for Criminal Element

We’ve been fans of Luis Alberto Urrea’s since before he allowed us to launch this site with his excellent contemporary crime story “The National City Reparation Society” from Akashic Books’ anthology San Diego Noir.

If you’ve only read that, you may not know about his historic novels about Teresita Urrea, a distant relative of his. Teresita is the subject of his earlier novel The Hummingbird’s Daughter, and we return to her unusual life and struggle for security, for love, and for a personal identity in Queen of America. This daughter of a Yaqui Indian woman and a wealthy Mexican rancher, Don Tomás, has been proclaimed a saint.

Teresita died and came back to life, mystified herself by the healing powers that accompanied her mortal return. The new saint became renowned, sought out by the desperate, despised by Mexico’s dictator. A standard-bearer for the poor and needy, she is targeted by the government of her homeland and must escape.

(Read the rest at http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2011/11/fresh-meat-luis-alberto-urreas-quee... )
  CrimeHQ | Apr 11, 2013 |
This sequel to Urrea's "The Hummingbird's Daughter" is the continuation of events in the life of Santa Teresita, the healer. What are the roles for a saint in the modern world? How does a saint cope with the oppotunism all around her? Can a saint fall in love? Just a few of the intriguing issues addressed in this tale. Urrea is a genuinely tale spinner. His use of language is lyrical and his characters are memorable. I listened to Urrea's narration via audiobook, and his voice is almost hypnotic. Enjoy! ( )
  hemlokgang | Jan 23, 2013 |
Live, love and laugh along with the Queen of America and her menagerie of characters.

As a first time reader of this authors work, I was quite surprised by Urrea's writing style. His Queen of America is definitely not what I expected, in fact it was better than I expected. The main character of this book, Teresita, on who the story is based, actually existed, although most of the book is fiction. Urrea has a pre-sequel to this book, which I have not yet read, however this did not affect my reading of Queen of America, as it did not read like a sequel. I actually was completely surprised to learn Teresita was actually a real healer in her time back in the early 1900's instead of a fictitious character. This I did not note until after I read the notes and acknowledgement section at the end of the book.

Urrea's quirky style of writing and his list of characters remind me of a western-style movie with comedy scattered throughout. Teresita, her family, and friends are all characters one quickly feels comfortable with and the ongoing saga made it was difficult to put this book down. Being of Hispanic descent but not Mexican, I understood some of the Mexican words scattered throughout the book, while other times I had no idea what the word might mean. However, this did not in any way keep me from enjoying this book and I laughed out loud many times throughout this book. At other times it I was so caught up in the characters it was as if I was family. Teresita seems like the average poor Mexican, however, she also has a gift of what this generation may call healing of the hands. A term that back in the 1900's was considered by some to be witchcraft and at times she is ostracized for it. This book was an amazing adventure of love, laughter, pain and sorrow as Teresita lives her life, at times traveling across the continental United States. Urrea's words seem to carry you, when you feel the heat of the desolate desert or the scraping of the horse between your legs, while winding through the hills of Arizona. At other times you are riding on a windowless, dusty train through hills and valleys of the Old West with awe and wonder at the first glimpse of a creek bed or river, or maybe even the ocean. What may happen next? The wonders seem to never cease for what Teresita's next contingency may be. Yet in the end, Teresita finds exactly what she is longing for. ( )
  autumnblues | Jan 11, 2012 |
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Book description
From Luis:About Queen of America

This is the sequel to The Hummingbird’s Daughter.

It’s a personal favorite because I feel I made some happy forward moves in my writing.  It is, by nature of the milieu, different from its predecessor.  Yet it still trods the pathways of the former book.  You can imagine it this way:  19th century indigenous Mexico offers different magic than, say, early 20th century Manhattan.  It goes from a planted, native tale, to the story of immigrants entering not only a new world, but a new century.  With miracles.  Or:  how does a young woman go from Mexican sainthood to her day’s version of pop-stardom?  How does one try to be the Madonna, while being Madonna?

Ain’t easy, friends.  But it is compelling, and sometimes wildly amusing, frightening, even romantic.  I had to surrender to the story more than the history books or the shamanic teachers.  So this book is faster, I think.  Everything I have ever learned about writing burst on the page before my eyes.  I will have to leave it to readers and critics to decide if it is great, or even good.  But I was writing with lightning in my hand on some pages, and it never felt so good.
Tucson, El Paso, Clifton, San Francisco, St. Louis, Los Angeles, and ultimately New York. Marriages, births, deaths. Travel and travails.  After twenty-six years, the saga is complete.

And I love Little, Brown for the astonishing cover they created!

http://www.luisurrea.com/books/fictio...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316154865, Hardcover)

After the bloody Tomochic rebellion, Teresita Urrea, beloved healer and "Saint of Cabora," flees with her father to Arizona. But their plans are derailed when she once again is claimed as the spiritual leader of the Mexican Revolution. Besieged by pilgrims and pursued by assassins, Teresita embarks on a journey through turn-of-the-century industrial America-New York, San Francisco, St. Louis. She meets immigrants and tycoons, European royalty and Cuban poets, all waking to the new American century. And as she decides what her own role in this modern future will be, she must ask herself: can a saint fall in love?

At turns heartbreaking, uplifting, and riotously funny, QUEEN OF AMERICA reconfirms Luis Alberto Urrea's status as a writer of the first rank.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:43 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The remarkable heroine of The hummingbird's daughter returns in this epic novel of love and loss in a restless America. Teresita's passage will take her across the nation as she comes to terms with her place in a new world. She must finally ask herself the ultimate question: is a saint allowed to fall in love?… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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