Urrea (pronounced oo-RAY-ah) was born in Tijuana, Mexico. His father was Mexican, his
mother from New York. When he was three his family moved
to San Diego where he grew up and attended college. He
currently teaches at the University of Illinois (Full
The Hummingbird's Daughter is based on the real-life story of his Great Aunt Teresita, the 'Saint of Cabora'. She was born in 1873 to a 14-year-old Indian girl impregnated by a local rancher. Raised in poverty by an abusive aunt she managed to learn music and to read and also exhibited great healing powers. At 16 she was raped and lapsed into a coma and was declared dead, but at her wake she sat up alive and well. Thousands of pilgrims came to visit her even though the Catholic Church denounced her. You will find much more about her if you choose to search online (and, of course, in Urrea's book), but I don't want to give any more away for fear of spoiling the plot.
This article was originally published in July 2005, and has been updated for the
April 2006 paperback release.
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