“Queen of America” by Luis Alberto Urrea
At nineteen, I think I liked *NSync and was a dorky clueless freshman in college.)
Now try to imagine being nineteen years old and a saint – a real live, miracle healer saint.
Ugh. Stressful, right?
This high-pressure double act is the deal for Teresita, the heroine of Luis Alberto Urrea’s “Queen of America.” This book, it turns out, is actually a sequel to Urrea’s previous novel, “The Hummingbird’s Daughter.” I haven’t read the first book, and am pleased to say I didn’t once feel like I needed to in order to understand the happenings in this incredibly engrossing and solid read. In the vividly written, “Queen of America,” Teresita and her father Tomas have fled Mexico to America, where Teresita’s fame follows her. Even as she’s dealing with hired assassins and her own growing up, she has to deal with fame equaling that of any modern pop star. And romance. Of course there’s romance.
I got this book for free at The Book Cellar in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood — an advance copy when I purchased one of their staff pick books — and I couldn’t be happier about it. Urrea writes Teresita and the characters around her with love and care, which makes sense once you learn that Saint Teresita was a real person who is actually a distance relative of his. So it turns out this book I just happened to have read is actually really great historical fiction and I learned something!
An exciting history lesson told through exquisite prose? I’m there.