Joseph's Reviews > Into the Beautiful North

Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
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Jun 05, 11

bookshelves: fiction
Read in December, 2009 — I own a copy

I wanted to like this book. I really did. It's a great premise, with the possibility for the author to approach the material with darkness and cynicism, puncturing the ideals and dreams of his characters with harsh reality, or with a lighter touch, optimistically rewarding a more positive outlook on a potentially dangerous world.

But Urrea tries to have it both ways, walking right up to all the potential disaster of his main character's quest, but having everything just sort of magically work itself out. A near-rape just kind of doesn't happen. People are captured by the Border Patrol and Homeland Security, but they just turn out not to be so bad. Characters are separated, but just happen to meet up again later.

I'm not suggesting that the book had to be relentlessly negative. It's just that in order for optimism and happiness to triumph over evil, that evil needs to have fangs. You can't just suggest that the world is a dangerous place, only to pull the rug out from underneath that evil at the last minute.

I'm not being very clear here, unfortunately. I guess I should have written this review a little closer to actually having read the book.
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