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Into the Beautiful North

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3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  4,499 Ratings  ·  940 Reviews
Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the United States to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn't the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village--they've all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and r ...more
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2009)
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Bec there is a small button that says review just under my activity on the left side, it will say review in black then click the one in blue next to it.…morethere is a small button that says review just under my activity on the left side, it will say review in black then click the one in blue next to it. Or when I click read on my laptop it will offer me the choice to write a review or not, don't know about other devices though.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Brina
Jan 16, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

The majority of people view the United States as the land of opportunity and would risk their lives to enter the country either legally or illegally. Just try telling that to the people of Tres Camarones, Michoacan, Mexico. The male population has all left for the states to find work leaving the town with the elderly, women, and children born before the men bolted.
It is in this context that we meet Nayeli Cervantes. At nineteen and one year removed from being a high school futbol star,
...more
brian
Jun 09, 2009 brian rated it it was ok
urrea wrote a terrific book on the same subject -- devil's highway told the true story of 26 mexicans who attempted to cross the american border by passing through the hellish region known as the devil's highway. from a selfish perspective i say open the borders and let mexicans flood the place: i eat their food about once a day, their women are gorgeous, their music and poetry and art are alive in a way few things are, and, really, who the fuck am i to decide who can or can't go here or there? ...more
Emily
Jan 09, 2011 Emily added it
Shelves: read-in-2011
After the density of Mary Wollstonecraft and the heaviness of Mariama Bâ (to be reviewed shortly), I was in the mood for something a little light, a little frothy, with a decided sense of humor. I've seen some reviews around the blogosphere critiquing Luis Alberto Urrea's Into the Beautiful North—a quest story about three teenage Mexican girls and their gay male friend who sneak across the US/Mexican border in order to fetch back some Mexican men to repopulate their threatened town—for being lig ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Jan 28, 2014 Shawn Thrasher rated it it was amazing
This is an incredible novel, with an animated plot and memorable characters that will stick with you long after you turn the last page. Urrea uses The Magnificent Seven and Seven Samurai as a mold of sorts, but if anything it's an old-fashioned mid-century jello mold, where he mixes all sorts of strange fruits and meats into the lime green wonderfulness to create something unusual and beautiful. He flips gender on it head and pokes holes in stereotypical Mexican machismo (our heroes are a kick-a ...more
Snotchocheez
Apr 08, 2014 Snotchocheez rated it really liked it

I popped Mr. Urrea's Into the Beautiful North on my library's e-book queue quite a while ago, and then kinda ignored it. Since then, my awareness of the south-of-the-border-immigrants' plight had deepened (via a viewing of HBO's haunting doc "Which Way Home", several horrifying visits to El Blog del Narco, even hearing several first-hand accounts from my co-workers who'd made the voyage north) and I was really in no mood for a depressing novel on the same subject.

What a surprise it was for Urre
...more
Michelle Lemaster
Apr 16, 2009 Michelle Lemaster rated it it was amazing
Shelves: latin-american
I just spent a lovely cloudy, cuddly day finishing this wonderful book by Luis Urrea. The characters of this modern-day quest novel are so unforgettable and entirely loveable. For some reason, the casts of Steinbeck's Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat come to mind. The brave, dompe warrior, Atomiko, in particular, seems as though he would fit right in with the chivalrous misfits that made their homes in abandoned warehouses and giant unused boilers... they who were completely content with jug of hoo ...more
Dingleberry
Jan 22, 2015 Dingleberry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: january-2015
I have to say this is one of the most joyful books I've ever read. Also, don't be worried about half of it being in Spanish: there are subtitles and you're smart. You can guess.

That said, I think I found the soul of feminism in this book: women who organize a mission to find men (literally) - to save their man-starved city. For those of us who have always considered immigration a one-sided "problem," here is the other side - entire cities stripped of adult male populations gone on into the US to
...more
Taryn Pierson
Aug 29, 2015 Taryn Pierson rated it really liked it
I have now read back-to-back books that take somber subject matter and infuse it with light and warmth in unexpected ways. Earlier this week I wrote about Crooked Heart, set during the London Blitz, and today I bring to your attention the delightful and surprising Into the Beautiful North, a hybrid coming of age/quest novel about teenagers from rural Mexico crossing the border into the US illegally—for a reason you'd never expect.

The book blipped onto my radar thanks to the Big Read , a promotio
...more
Chuck
Aug 05, 2010 Chuck rated it it was amazing
48 out of 100 for 2010 . . .

Book People in Austin is the largest independent bookstore in the world. Everytime I stumble into there (less often than I'd like, maybe once every year or two) I grab hold of the books recommended by the staff, or copies of books signed by authors who visited the store. Doing this has led me to many great books that I never would have run across in the local Barnes and Noble (and no, I don't bash BNN and am glad I finally live in a town big enough to have one). This
...more
Kathleen Houlihan
I'm just finishing this book and I'm loving every minute of it. There are so many sub-cultures and interesting juxtapositions in the novel. Let me back up and talk premise:

Three 19 year old girls live in a very small town in Central Mexico. One day, they realize that there are no men left in the village -- they have all gone North to the United States to find work... many no longer contact the families they left behind. The town is dying, and the banditos (from the local drug cartel) are circlin
...more
Lorrie
Jan 06, 2016 Lorrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jasmine, Rachel, Judith, Pat
This book was a complete surprise to me. I listened to it while driving and was thoroughly captivated after the first CD. The main character, Nyele, was going to travel to Kankakee, IL, from Tres Carmones, MX, in search of her father, Dom Pepe Cervantes. She, with the assistance of her tia and 3 friends, traveled to San Diego and also Kankakee. Her aunt was a former professional bowling star and now the mayor of Tres Carmones. Aunt Irma had a past lover, Chava, in the USA. The author referred to ...more
Ryandake
May 03, 2012 Ryandake rated it really liked it
i've been reading a lot of half-books lately... you know, you start it, putter along, sputter out... pick up another. but this one is a keeper.

as a californian who sees migrant workers in the fields every day on my way to my own job, i have a lot of sympathy for, although admittedly not a lot of knowledge of, people who come to this country in search of something better. those folks work hard at jobs most natives wouldn't take. they have nothing but my respect.

over the years things are getting h
...more
Judy King
Mar 16, 2011 Judy King rated it it was amazing
Because I so loved The Hummingbird's Daughter -- another masterpiece by Luis Urrea, I marked this book "to read" back in March, and soon after downloaded the book so I could read it. Then something about the reviews I read had me pushing it back -- perhaps because I live in Mexico and have seen how news reports about the drug cartel have hurt the country, because my opinions about the immigration issue don't match those of many who live north of the border.

At any rate, I put it off and put it o
...more
Suzanne Crane
Dec 26, 2011 Suzanne Crane rated it really liked it
I've been hanging on every word from the very beginning, which is unusual for me on audiobooks. I love these characters so far. ***Note: This review contains teasers, (not really spoilers.)*** The book is vivid because the various settings are so familiar to me, yet I was seeing them through very different eyes. I kept waiting for something horrid to happen, and was delighted that this author chose to make his characters encounter more of the Good Americans than the bottom feeders when it matter ...more
Hester
Jan 12, 2010 Hester rated it really liked it
This is exactly my type of book. Luis Urrea took a serious issue, the US-Mexico border, and wrote a comic, terrifying, uplifting book about it. The suspense was a little much for me, but it was leavened with humor and the author's obvious love for both countries.

The men of Tres Camarones, a small town in Sinaloa, have all gone to the States for work, leaving their home vulnerable to drug lords. Inspired by Yul Brynner and "Estip McQueen"'s performances in "The Magnificient Seven," the town send
...more
Julie
Jun 01, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Julie by: The Seattle Times
Urrea approaches the subject of illegal immigration, one that is fraught with political baggage, violence and despair, with sweetly bizarre characters, gentle satire and an earnest quest that disarm and charm the reader. Instead of the hammerhead of stereotypical gringo moral vacuousness and illegal alien helplessness that bludgeoned us in TC Boyle's Tortilla Curtain, Urrea crafts slight caricatures that defy stereotypes. Just when you are getting comfortable with your assumptions and think you ...more
emily
Sep 19, 2010 emily rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people . . . who do not read . . . VICTORIAN NOVELS
I was weirdly confronted on the subway while reading this book. Here's the situation: I'm on the R train at like 7:30, when I notice the man sitting near me learning halfway across the aisle to look at my book. He glares at it for a minute or so, gives me a big eye, and then turns to his wife, friend, whatever and declares slowly and portentously "people . . . have lost the ability . . . to transport themselves . . . through TIME. People . . . do not read . . . Victorian novels!"

Here's the thing
...more
Jennifer
Feb 03, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-books
It took me forever to finish this meandering tale of a group of Mexican teenage girls who cross the border to find themselves their own "Magnificent Seven," seven men who can come back to their mostly abandoned village and protect the remaining women from local bandidos. One girl is also on a hunt for her biological father, who disappeared from her life long ago. The tone of the book, despite the hardships the girls encounter, is relentlessly cheerful and the plot contrived, as they are always m ...more
Jill
Mar 16, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing
This book was hilarious. I love all the crazy characters!

A rural town whose men have all migrated to the US send four brave young people to find seven Mexican heroes to come back and take back the town. The great Aunt Irma, now mayor, loves Yul Brynner so the idea is hatched after watching The Magnificent Seven movie at the local theater.

It is a true epic journey with many hazards and trials along the way. You will cheer them while you laugh at this unusual group. Oh, and yes, the girls have see
...more
Miriam
Jan 29, 2009 Miriam rated it it was amazing
I have to admit that I never got into Urrea's other books, although I love the KIND of books he writes. But this one grabbed me from the start and did not let go. He is able to find beauty in ugliness in a way that I really admire.
Stephanie B.
Feb 16, 2016 Stephanie B. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Me gusto mucho este libro porque senti una coneccion con el libro y mi experencia viviendo en dos culturas.
Por ejemplo, yo me vine aqui a Estados Unidos cuando tenia cinco anos. Yo ya sabia espanol e ingles porque iba a una escuela bilingue en Tijuana y eso me ayudo. Claro que batalle los primeros anos mas y sigo batallando. Mi primer lenguaje es el espanol entonces hago muchos errores cuando hablo ingles. Por ejemplo, el otro dia estaba enferma y le dije a Mimi "I feel congestionated" y ella d
...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is one of those books that deals with serious issues in a lighthearted way. It reminded me of Moonlight in Odessa and I Do Not Come to You by Chance--also fun and entertaining books dealing with the problems of coming from an economically depressed place--though this is the lightest and most humorous of the three.

Into the Beautiful North is a story about a group of teenagers, three girls and their gay friend, who undertake a quest to find men to repopulate Tres Camerones, their small Sinalo
...more
Barbara
May 12, 2016 Barbara rated it really liked it
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea was our community Big Read in April and May 2016, as part of the National Endowments for the Arts (NEA) Big Read Program. Free copies, in both English and Spanish, were available at our local public library. It was a perfect selection for our community, as we have an expanding Hispanic community. I liked the book and felt that it was a ‘just right’ selection, as it took the very serious subject of illegal immigration and looked at it from a moderate ...more
Heather
Mar 24, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it
I immediately connected with the main character and the storyline. I found author Luis Alberto Urrea's writing style very easy and engaging-- something really necessary for me. I've said before that I am not a "book club" kind of girl. I don't want reading to be a challenge. I don't want to spend my time trying to interpret a bunch of symbolism. I simply want to be engaged and entertained, and perhaps have my eyes opened a little wider (in either enlightenment or surprise).

I slipped into this bo
...more
Beth
Oct 31, 2009 Beth rated it it was amazing
Truly, it’s the journey, not the destination on this lovely book about a young women whose impoverished town in Mexico has lost all it’s menfolk, including her padre. Their leaving in search of a better life has afforded the women of the town many non-traditional opportunities. When her aunt, now the Mayor, recognizes that without some men around, the town, threatened by drug lords, may become extinct. Nayeli, the flower of her community, also recognizes that it has been a long time since anyone ...more
Serena
Aug 11, 2009 Serena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea on audio was a delight, especially with the voice and passion of Susan Ericksen. Nayeli is a young girl working in a taco shop in Tres Camarones, who continues to idolize her father that left her and her mother many years ago.

Her home is under attack from bandits and drug dealers, but many residents have been abandoned by other men seeking the opportunities found in America. While watching The Magnificent Seven with Yul Brynner, Nayeli and her frien
...more
Kara
Jan 17, 2010 Kara rated it really liked it
One of the most timely novels written on the issue of post-9/11 immigration policy, U.S.-Mexico relations, and border control. Urrea manages to tackle all of these issues while making the novel highly entertaining! Think of the films El Norte (Gregory Nava) meets Karate Kid, with a twist of Homer's Odyssey. The characters were unique, well-developed, and delightfully unexpected: the protagonist Nayeli, a karateka and soccer star, sets out to cross the border to find her father and bring men back ...more
Ravi Jain
Sep 26, 2010 Ravi Jain rated it really liked it
"Quest novels announce their purpose in a straight-forward manner: Colorful, memorable characters prepare for and embark on a journey of immense significance" - from the San Diego Union-Tribue review, back cover blurb.

In this case the quest is to bring back the men who have migrated North - to the US - from a small Mexican town near Mazatlan, in order to protect the town from local drug bandidos. The novel is a bit too transparent in its political correctness - the principal characters include
...more
Rachielle
Mar 17, 2012 Rachielle rated it it was amazing
I admit that when I first read the synopsis of this novel, I was not sure if I would like the book. As a legal immigrant to the United States, I knew firsthand how the process for my family took so long that when the petition took effect, three of my older siblings were over twenty-one and were not eligible to immigrate.

As I started reading the book and understanding the characters, I felt my reservations go away. Nayeli and her gang of teenagers travel from Sinaloa, Mexico to the US (Los Yunait
...more
Tammy
Oct 25, 2016 Tammy rated it it was amazing
About a 19-year-old woman named Nayeli who, with an assorted cast of characters, decides to go from their small town in Mexico to Los Yunaites (the U.S.) to recruit "the magnificent seven" to come back and protect their somewhat deserted town from a group of bandits. As one reviewer said, this book is a "wondrous yarn" and it made me laugh out loud at times. I liked it better than Urrea's "The Hummingbird's Daughter", though I can't remember that one well enough to say why. I recommend this book ...more
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Luis Alberto Urrea is the award-winning author of 13 books, including The Hummingbird's Daughter, The Devil's Highway and Into the Beautiful North (May 2009). Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Luis has used the theme of borders, immigration and search for love and belonging throughout his work. A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005 (nonfiction), he's won the Kiriyama Prize (2006 ...more
More about Luis Alberto Urrea...

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“The world looked to them like a great roll of butcher paper unfurled on a table.” 4 likes
“Fat green frogs, the eternally grinning type destined to be shellacked into bizarre poses while wearing mariachi hats and holding toy trumpets and guitars and then sold in tourist traps all over Mexico, jostled lazily in the dappled shadows.” 4 likes
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