I just finished my next to the last text for the Florida Teens Read book list collated by the Florida Association of Media Educators. If you’ve been following my blog, then you already know that my high school pulls its book club books from this list.
Laura Resau teamed with María Virginia Farinango to tell a fictionalized account of Virginia’s childhood in The Queen of Water. The Queen of Water is the tale of Virginia’s childhood as an indígena in Ecuador in the 1980s. What struck me as I finished the book this afternoon is how much it follows what I have been studying in Women of Color feminism.
There were / are several different classes of Ecudorians: the poor indígena, the middle class and rich indígena, and the mestizos. The indígena are thought of as inferior, less than human and the children are often sold / stolen into child slavery. At seven, Virginia’s parents sent her to live with another family who promised them money and monthly payments for her work. Virginia was beaten, denied an education, and constantly told that she was stupid, that she was dirty.
After Virginia escapes, around age 15, she realizes that her parents deeply regretted sending her off. They, too, had been tricked into letting the people take her. But through an amazing amount of work and spunk that had begun when she was enslaved, Virginia gets an education. Her life, though, is fractured. She is unable to combine her indígena self, with the mestiza-mimicking self, with her dishwasher self, with her student self. She has been told who she is and what she is and who she can’t be and what she can’t be, but she says at the end of the novel that “I see that if you try to fit someone in a box, she might slip throught he seams like water and become her own river.” By owning all of herself Virginia claims her entire self and begins to move forward with her life.
To learn more, visit Laura Resau’s website.