Posts Tagged ‘sweeping’

The Hummingbird’s Daughter

July 16, 2012

Author: Luis Alberto Urrea

Title: The Hummingbird’s Daughter

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 495

Geographical Setting: RuralMexico

Time Period: Late 19th Century

Series: Though not a series,there is a sequel – Queen of America, published in 2011

Plot Summary: Teresa Urrea is the illegitimate daughter of Don Tomás Urrea, a wealthy Mexican rancher, and a young Indian girl, Cayetana Chávez, known as The Hummingbird. Teresa is born in 1873 into desperate poverty and suffers abuse at the hands of her aunt, who raises Teresa after her mother abandons her. In spite of this, Teresa is a bright and engaging child. Teresa is rescued by Huila, the medicine woman, and learns the mystical ways of nature and healing. When Teresa is older, Don Tomás, defying contemporary conventions, takes her in and raises her as his own. A horrific event befalls Teresa when she is sixteen, miraculously transforming her into the Saint of Cabora, although Teresa dismisses the label. Pilgrims, hoping she will heal them, arrive at the ranch by the thousands, as do vagabonds, soldiers and revolutionaries. Insurrection is contemplated within the crowd and it is rumored that Teresa is fomenting revolution. Teresa and her father are arrested and sentenced to be shot as seditionists, though the sentence is later commuted to exile in the United States.This is a thoroughly researched, yet fictional account of a woman related to the author, known as the Saint of Cabora.

Subject Headings: Teenage girls – fiction; Woman healers – fiction; Illegitimate children – fiction; Near-death experiences – fiction; Mexico – History – 1867-1910 – fiction;

Appeal: Sweeping, atmospheric, authentic, measured pacing, engrossing,  gritty, humorous, evocative, mystical, detailed characterizations, strong characters, interwoven perspectives, accessible, thought-provoking, well-researched

3 terms that best describe this book: Expansive, dramatic, anddetailed in both characterization and setting

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Cookson, Catherine, The Glass Virgin. This is a character driven and dramatic coming-of-age story of a young girl who learns the truth and accepts the consequences of her true lineage in Edwardian England.

Le Guin, Ursula, Malafrena. This historical fiction title reflects an atmospheric and dramatic tale of a young man who becomes a revolutionary and forsakes his homeland.

Rice, Luanne, The Edge of Winter. This is a character-driven coming-of-age story about a mother and daughter facing the unforgiving realities as well as the beauty of life in a bird sanctuary in Rhode Island.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Gilly, Adolfo,The Mexican Revolution. This book recounts the peasant revolts against the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz and the inauguration of Álvaro Obregón in 1920.

Porterfield, Amanda, Healing in the History of Christianity. This title examines how healing is a central theme in the history of Christianity.

Shapiro, Marcy, Transforming the Nature of Health: A Holistic Vision of Healing That Honors Our Connection to the Earth, Others, and Ourselves. This title explores how our health is connected to love, meaning and respect between ourselves and nature.

Name: Patty Daniel

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

April 21, 2010

Author:  Junot Diaz

Title:  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Genre:  Literary Fiction, Latino

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  335

Geographical Setting:  New Jersey, Dominican Republic

Time Period:  Mid to Late 20th Century

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  Oscar’s Dominican line can be traced back to an affluent Trujillo-era family, a surgeon and nurse that existed in social circles adjacent to that of the the savage dictator.  Oscar’s lack of love (and lack of culo) may also be attributed to his quasi-royal grandparents.  By jumping back and forth through time, Junot Diaz presents the genesis and implementation of the fuku (“the Curse and the Doom of the New World”) that has plagued Oscar’s family since the middle of the 20th century.

With a casual, anecdotal narrative littered with comic book, Science Fiction, and Fantasy references, Yunior, a family friend, regales us with this searing family history that details the trials of Oscar, a hopeless romantic and obese SciFi/ Fantasy aficionado who wants desperately for a girlfriend (and to be the Dominican Tolkien), and places them in the context of the tragic family legacy that held sway over The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Subject Headings: Misfits (Persons), Social acceptance; Eccentrics and eccentricities; Interpersonal relationships; Men/women relations; Ghettoes; Ghettoes, Hispanic-American – New Jersey; Family relationships; Curses; Loss (Psychology); Persistence; Dominican-Americans; Hispanic-Americans; New Jersey; Folklore; Hispanic-American fiction

Appeal:  contemporary, character-centered, episodic, vivid, savage, sweeping, unflinching, anecdotal, affecting, explicit, harrowing, witty

3 terms that best describe this book:  funny, engaging, powerful

Similar Works and Authors:


Trujillo is examined in Eric Paul Roodra’s The Dictator Next Door:  The Good Neighbor Policy and the Trujillo Regime in the Dominican Republic, 1930-1945.

Fukued?  Who needs zafa when you have Lady Suzanne Miller’s Omens, Curses & Superstitions:  How to Remove and Reverse Them?

Did Oscar need to focus a little less on his Lovecraft and a little more on his love craft?  Try Ron Louis and David Copeland’s How to Succeed with Women.


Jessica Abel offers a story of self-discovery and personal growth in the graphic novel, La Perdida.  Carla explores her Mexican roots through misguided endeavors.  Personal and tense, Carla struggles to connect and her naivete ultimately lands her in the center of a violent plot.  Although simple, the artwork is evocative.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon is an effervescent tale of Jewish cousins/friends/collaborators that find themselves as pop-culture frontiersmen during the Golden Age of comics.  Another Pulitzer Prize winner.

In The Fortress of Solitude, Jonathan Lethem tells a story of a boy trying to find his place, being caught between two worlds and not quite fitting either.  Music, magic rings, super heroes and comic books figure into the story.  Oscar would approve.