It was so wonderful to receive the news this morning of the first starred review of 2011 for an EMLA author—in this case, two authors: Laura Resau and her collaborator María Virginia Farinango, whose life inspired The Queen of Water. Kirkus calls it "riveting" and says it is "by turns heartbreaking, infuriating and ultimately inspiring."
In the book's author's note and on Laura's website page for the book, she describes how she came to know about María's life, one afternoon when Laura stopped by the shop in Colorado where María sold alpaca sweaters and scarves. She ended up staying and talking for hours, and María's story unfolded: "When María Virginia was a child, it was fairly common for impoverished indigenous families to send their young daughters—as young as six or seven—to live with wealthier families. The arrangements were often vague. There was a blurry line between giving daughters away, having them work as nannies or maids, and selling them....[P]oor indigenous families were so marginalized that they felt powerless to demand their daughters back....María Virginia was one of these stolen daughters....Yet as her story unfolded, I discovered that her past was surprisingly full of laughter, spunk, and best of all, heart-swelling triumph. Throughout her story, the cultural anthropologist in me was riveted, and the writer in me was jumping up and down."
Laura and María took a six year journey together, bringing the story into its new form. You can read an excerpt on the same page linked to above, and follow other links at the bottom of that page to more extra material about the setting and other cool things. On Laura's blog, you can see a recap of Laura and María's trip to New York to meet with the staff at Random House and a group of enthusiastic librarians.
The book hits shelves March 8. Congratulations, Laura and María!