In late 19th century Mexico, Teresa is born an unknown father and mother known as the hummingbird. Her mother abandons her with her aunt quickly and Teresa questions who her family is. She makes friends with the local healer and midwife Huila. Huila takes Teresa under her wing, recognizing something special in this girl. Teresa's aunt eventually abandons her as well, and Teresa is taken in by Huila, who works in the household of Don Tomas, which ends up being Teresa's real father.
Life is tough during this time. There are dangers from many different sources. Teresa witnesses these dangers as she grows up and knows that she wants to care for people, same as Huila does. She learns how to bring children in the world and finds that she can take pain away from the mothers as they give birth. Huila tries to nurture these skills in Teresa.
Mexico itself becomes a character as the country, its landscape, and its people provide the perfect backdrop to the magical nature of Teresita and her healing powers. There are some supernatural elements that lost me a little, but eventually brought me back on board to the story. It's obvious that Urrea, who at the end states he believes Teresa is in relation to him, has done an incredible amount of research for this project. His passion for his homeland and the history flows off the page. Even when there were hiccups in the story for me, this passion kept me glued to the story.
First Line: "On the cool October morning when Cayetana Chavez brought her baby to light, it was the start of that season in Sinloa when the humid torments of summer finally gave way to the breezes and falling leaves, and small red birds skittered through the corrals, and the dogs grew new coats."