Thursday, April 28, 2011

Queen of Water

I have read Laura Resau's writing before and enjoyed it, but her latest book, Queen of Water, written with Maria Virginia Faranango, is a fabulous account of Faranango's life growing up in Ecuador. Virginia is a poor indigena girl, sold by her parents to a better-off mestizo family at a young age. Although she has enough to eat and a home to live in, she is treated as their maid. And although Virginia wants to leave her mestiza family, the opportunities that arise cause Virginia to ponder what it would be like to return to her village. She is hopeful that her family will come through on their promise of a diploma, and decides to stay with them longer, letting opportunities to leave pass her by. Years pass, and Virginia believes her mestiza mother and father who tell her that her indigena family does not care about her. As Virginia ages she begins to dream of getting an education and going to school. She becomes embarrassed by her indigena roots. It is her drive to learn and her indigena roots that eventually help her find a way out of her situation. She begins to attend school, never mentioning to her group of girlfriends that she is indigena. She pushes herself to excel and also takes a part-time job to earn money. Eventually Virginia takes part in a competition with other indigena girls and is awarded the title, Queen of Water. Now everyone will know about Virginia's background. Virginia is amazed by people's reactions - or lack of reaction- and is pleasantly surprised how accepting others are of the culture she came from.
I would consider this to be a true story because of the information given in the author's note, yet it is listed as a novel. Resau met Maria Virginia Fernango in Colorado and the two collaborated on this book together. Fernango has led an amazing life, and this book shines light on a population and their lifestyle that was unknown to me. Fernango's story is one of hope as she persevered and found a way out of her humble beginnings. The author's note at book's end explains the practice of the indigena selling their children to other families to work for them. This group is looked down upon, yet it is their ancestors that first populated Ecuador, Chile, and Peru. Over time Virginia learns to appreciate the Quichua language she has forgotten over the years and the family she left behind.

Of course there is more to this story as Fernango is now married with a child of her own. I would love to read more about her life after she was chosen as the Queen of Water and moved forward in the pursuit of her dreams. Laura Resau's website is a good source of more information about this book as well.

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