Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Queen of Water by Maria Virginia Farinango & Laura Resau

Title: The Queen of Water
Authors: Maria Virginia Farinango & Laura Resau 
Publisher: Dial
Release Date: March 8, 2011
Date Read: June 26, 2011
Rating: 4/5 stars 

Born in an Andean village in Ecuador, Virginia lives with her large family in a small, earthen-walled dwelling. In her village of indígenas, it is not uncommon to work in the fields all day, even as a child, or to be called a longa tonta—stupid Indian—by members of the ruling class of mestizos, or Spanish descendants. When seven-year-old Virginia is taken from her village to be a servant to a mestizo couple, she has no idea what the future holds.

In this poignant novel based on a true story, acclaimed author Laura Resau has collaborated with María Virginia Farinango to recount one girl's unforgettable journey to self-discovery. Virginia's story will speak to anyone who has ever struggled to find his or her place in the world. It will make you laugh and cry, and ultimately, it will fill you with hope

Wow! I haven't read a novel based on a true story in quite some time and have been missing that "truthful" feeling in my reading selections. Queen of Water seemed like the perfect choice and I was blown away by the beautiful writing and heart-wrenching story.

For no particular reason I haven't read much POC literature in the past few years but the few novels I have read were mostly set in North America. Queen of Water was my first foray into South America and I was enthralled by the culture and environment. I was shocked by the blatant racism between the indigena and mestiza peoples, a divide I'd never heard of before. I think it's necessary to portray racism outside of the usual "black vs white" so people understand the many faces of prejudice in our world.

As with many stories of abuse or neglect I often leave the book feeling embarressed about my average lifestyle in Canada. By the time Virginia was my age she had paid for her education, suffered and overcame abuse and poverty, and reconnected with her native culture. I envy Virginia's determination and think she is a character many younger readers should aspire to be like. After reading the novel I read several interviews with Maria Virginia Farinango on Laura Resau's website about her life after the book ended and it's uplifting to hear how successful and influential she became as an adult.

Quote: "I am not at all invisible. I am the served and I am the server. I am queen and I am dishwasher. I am rich and poor, indigena and mestiza, and no one can put me in a box."

Recommended: Sold (Patricia McCormick), The Indigo Notebook (Laura Resau)

1 comment:

  1. So glad to hear it's not just me when after reading a tale of neglect I feel guilty about as you stated my 'average lifestyle.' But I'm also in awe at how determined we can be.

    The Indigo Notebook is the only YA book set in South America I can think of which is really sad. Well that and a MG book by Isabel Allende, I think it's called City of Beasts.

    I'm so happy to have discovered your blog =D


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