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Into the Beautiful North

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  3,054 ratings  ·  690 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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Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsThe Help by Kathryn StockettCity of Glass by Cassandra ClareAn Echo in the Bone by Diana GabaldonBlood Promise by Richelle Mead
Best Books of 2009
354th out of 1,372 books — 6,737 voters
The Immigrant and the Golden Coin by Dorothy May MercerJust Like Us by Helen ThorpeMid Ocean by T. Rafael CiminoThe Tortilla Curtain by T.C. BoyleThe Zombie Room by R.D. Ronald
Novels about Undocumented Immigrants
6th out of 25 books — 56 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Jan 12, 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

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
Michelle Lemaster
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
Shawn Thrasher
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
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
Suzanne Crane
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
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
Ravi Jain
"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
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
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
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
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
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
Nineteen year-old Nayeli could have been a wonderful heroine but she was trapped in: (a) a mindless plot -- after watching The Magnificent Seven in a Mexican theater she decides to take two girlfriends and an obligatory and stereotypical gay friend to Los Yunaites, illegally, to round up seven cops or soldiers to return to their town to save it from something (not sure what) by means of something else (again unclear); and (b) horribly banal and equally mindless dialogue -- think of teenage girls ...more
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
Sep 19, 2010 emily rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
Kurt Reichenbaugh
I thought this was a terrific "road novel" about a group of friends from Sinaloa who venture across the border into "Los Yunaites" through Tijuana, San Diego and on to Kansas. Some of the dialog in the book is delivered in slang and Spanglish. If you've read any of Urrea's non-fiction books you'll recognize familiar themes. Also, the blurbs on the cover mention how "riotously" funny the book is, which is a wild overstatement. Mostly, the book is a poetic account of two countries, their people an ...more
I snagged this book as an audio for my car. I was standing in the library and in need of something to listen to in my car. My co-worker recommended this. She said there's some Spanish in it and warned me that the voice actor isn't the best. I'm inclined to agree. I'm more than inclined - I fell off the lazy boy toward she's not the best.

This is the time where I usually rave and bow down before the voice actor, but Ericksen should not have been the choice for this book. Yes, she has a beautiful v
I laughed so much during this audiobook, much more than I expected considering much of the circumstances. Urrea has a deft hand with humor, and the characters are endearing. One note about the audiobook, though: no manches, güey.
Are you laughing?
You would be, if only you could hear me say that.
Apparently, it's humorous to hear a güera whip that one out, especially because I know how to pronounce it. (Psst...Ms.'s a soft 'G') Urrea has written some great moments that play wit
Doreen Fritz
What do I really know about modern-day life in Mexico? I have vacationed in a couple of resort towns -- I have read headlines about the effect of NAFTA and other USA economic policies on business, agriculture, and so on, and about how "they" all want to come to the United States for jobs -- and "they" take unfair advantage of our social services and education, but refuse to learn English. All the usual prejudicial statements. This novel immersed me into the realities of daily life in a small sou ...more
This story in interesting less for its rather preposterous plot and more for its up-close, personal look at the plight of modern-day Mexicans, their grueling poverty, and all the politics, danger, and heartache that is a daily risk for Mexican trying to (illegally) cross the border to the United States. The protagonist is Nayeli, a young teen in Tres Camarones in the Sinaloa region of Mexico, where over the past few years, nearly all of the men, including her father, have abandoned the town and ...more
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
A. Lynn
On the verge of her home town being over run by narco dealers, the stubborn but naive Nayeli decides to venture to the "beautiful north" to bring back her father and other Mexican men so they can defend the town; but when they finally cross into "el norte," Nayeli must learn to trust her inner strength, before her posse and their mission falls apart.

This little diddy from Luis Alberto Urrea is one of those "On the Road" adventure books, where the characters and their interactions are far more i
Eileen Daly-Boas
No spoilers.
Blurb: Best book I've read in a long time. A teenaged Mexican girl whose town is overrun with drug lords after the men have moved north for jobs goes on a quest to bring back seven warriors to take back her town. Wonderful characters, great writing, and a beautiful story.

Longer version: I can't think of a book that I've enjoyed this much in a long time. The main plot line, of a young woman who is fighting to save her town from small-time drug dealers. She's fiesty and strong and yet
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
I absolutely fell in love with this book! When I first picked it up, I was expecting something completely different. Maybe a somewhat melancholy book about a Mexican girl searching for her father in the United States. But it is not that at all. The book is full of wit and I loved all the characters. Within 25 pages I wanted to be in that little village in Mexico hanging out with Nayeli and her friends.

The book is about a quest. All of the young men have left Nayeli's little town to find their fo
This is the first book I had to read for my new book club, and I hope they're all as terrific as Into the Beautiful North! It's sort of a literary page turner about a strong young woman named Nayeli and the eccentric friends who help her save her little Mexican village.

Tres Camarones is virtually devoid of men, who have left for the US in search of work. This leaves the town vulnerable to bandits. When inspiration strikes Nayeli after watching "The Magnificent Seven," she decides to go to the U
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
What a kick in the booty! A lighthearted way of approaching the Mexican immigrant situation. Lots of silliness, but we like silly.
For awhile I was annoyed because it seemed like the author was stereotyping all Americans as dumb rednecks who pick on Mexicans. Then I got over myself and I could see that pretty much *all* of the characters are deliberate caricatures. He stereotypes the Mexicans too, and it's all in fun. Tacho the gay taqueria owner gets the best role. He made me laugh out loud.
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Reading Warriors: summer 2014 reading books: Into the beautiful north 1 4 Sep 14, 2014 02:56PM  
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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...
The Hummingbird's Daughter The Devil's Highway: A True Story Queen of America Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life

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“The sky peeled back for a moment, and a weak ray of sunset spilled over the scene like the diseased eye of some forgetful god -- the light bearing with it cold in place of heat.” 2 likes
“The world looked to them like a great roll of butcher paper unfurled on a table.” 2 likes
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