Return to innocence: A review of Queen of America

 

Queen of America
Luis Alberto Urrea
492 pages, softcover:
$14.99.
Little, Brown and Company, 2011.

 

It's hard to be a saint, but being a saint's father, husband or friend can't be easy, either. 'Not all crosses are made of wood,' as Luis Alberto Urrea observes in his novel Queen of America. It's a sequel to his 2005 book, The Hummingbird's Daughter, which first detailed Urrea's imagined version of his real-life great-aunt's childhood. The illegitimate daughter of an elusive Yaqui Indian woman and a wealthy landowner, Teresita, known as the Saint of Cabora, is both worshipped and persecuted for her mysterious gift of healing. Chased out of Mexico, pursued by assassins, burdened by doubts and besieged by fanatics, Teresita and her father crisscross borders not only between countries, but also between centuries, and ultimately, worlds.

In turn-of-the-century America, everyone wants something from Teresita. Her father wants to regain wealth and power. Mexican revolutionaries want a mascot. Shady businessmen hope to make some money. And always, ailing pilgrims haunt her doorstep, yearning for miracles, taking 'her hands in theirs, dry and soft and hot as little birds, and they would position them near spots on their bodies, nodding, whispering in their language that she somehow understood.'

Urrea spent over 25 years immersed in Teresita's world -- tracking her migrations, sifting through old letters and clippings. Part Western, part magical realism, sometimes funny and always compassionate, the story brings to life a sensual world of ethereal connections and clashes, between loyalty and loneliness, duty and love.

Seduced by fame and distracted by guilt, Teresita is paraded from San Francisco to St. Louis to New York. Years pass, and eventually the saint cannot remember 'the last time she had touched the soil with her feet … had pulled a fruit off a tree or ridden a horse or prayed in a sacred spot.' The final realization overwhelms her. 'She had nothing but expensive clothes and buckled shoes, hats and ribbons and hairpins and stoles. Nothing that mattered. No shells. No bones, or seeds, or branches with leaves.' Her own healing begins only when she leaves this shiny world behind and returns to the hills, to her family, going back to her roots and reclaiming her life for herself.

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • EVENTS AND ANNUAL FUND COORDINATOR
    The Events and Annual Fund Coordinator is responsible for managing and coordinating the Henry's Fork Foundation's fundraising events for growing the membership base, renewing and...
  • EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Position Description: The Education Director is the primary leader of Colorado Canyons Association's (CCA) education programs for students and adults on the land and rivers...
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...