Teresa of the New World
by Sharman Apt Russell

Yucca Publishing, 2015. ISBN 978-1-631-58042-0.
Reviewed by Susan J. Tweit
Posted on 06/10/2015

Teen/Girls; Fiction: Historical; Fiction: Spirituality

Sharman Russell is best-known for her creative non-fiction books, including Anatomy of a Rose, a lyrical and eye-opening look at the sex lives of plants, and her most recent, Diary of a Citizen Scientist. Teresa of the New World is a brilliant departure, a classic journey story told through magical realism.

The novel tells the story of the fictional mestizo daughter of Alvár Nuñéz Cabeza de Vaca, the real-life Spanish conquistador who is one of only four survivors of a Spanish expeditionary force of 300 men who landed in Florida in 1528.

Cabeza de Vaca's eight years as a captive of the Native American tribes, then a trader and healer, and finally, a conquistador returning to Spain come to life through the eyes of his daughter, the little girl who grows up listening to the voices of plants and earth and animals. Early one morning, her charismatic father sets off to walk to New Spain, taking Teresa away from her family and tribe.

That leaving begins the young girl's wanderings—across the continent and through cultures and diseases that are wreaking havoc on the Native world Teresa was born into. The journey of this mixed-race young girl, abandoned by her father and searching for a home and a place to belong, will absorb and enchant readers.

Sharman Apt Russell lives in the Gila River Valley of southwestern New Mexico and teaches writing at Western New Mexico University and Antioch University in Los Angeles. Her many books include Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist and Anatomy of a Rose: The Secret Life of Flowers. Her work has been widely anthologized and translated into nine languages. Her work includes a Rockefeller Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize. Visit her website.

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