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Into the Beautiful North

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  6,487 ratings  ·  1,254 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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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,487 ratings  ·  1,254 reviews

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Jan 16, 2016 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,
Jun 09, 2009 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
Jan 09, 2011 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
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
[4+] The premise of Into the Beautiful North is far-fetched - a young woman from a small Mexican village, inspired by the movie "The Magnificent Seven" decides to go to the US to recruit some men to protect her town. Yet Urrea makes it work. I was enthralled with Nayeli and her crew's journey north. Urrea's writing and the wonderfully narrated audiobook felt cinematic. I could see the scenes unfold - as a movie it would be an adventure/comedy or a road trip caper. Yes, it is a bit formulaic but ...more
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book from beginning to end. Urrea has a way with storytelling that really talks to me. He is like the Spanish version of Larry McMurtry, for me...

The story is almost impossible from the beginning but the characters find a way to get around all the harshness life has thrown at them; from Tres Camarones to Tijuana to San Diego.

When the bandidos start trying to take over Tres Camarones, Sinaloa, Nayeli has to find a way to save her town from these mafiosos. After watching Yul Brynner in
Shawn Thrasher
Jan 28, 2014 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
Jan 22, 2015 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
Apr 08, 2014 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
Michelle Lemaster
Apr 16, 2009 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
Daniel Villines
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The first thing that captured my attention is the simple, straight forward writing used by Urrea. The words and sentences have a kind and inviting feeling to them that exudes sincerity. This allowed the plot to move emotionally from happy to sad while always keeping the tone serious and real. There was no over-exaggeration or manufactured excitement. Urrea is simply telling his story.

On a personal note, I am Mexican by way of my Mother’s family. And the Mexican part of me has always felt partial
Feb 03, 2009 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
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
A woman in Mexico who travels north through a difficult border crossing and what she experiences in the North. It is interesting to see what my country looks like through immigrants' eyes. It is fairly nuanced but not flattering and but this was written before Trump. Exiles and Expats are usually stuck in between a rock and hard place between home and their new residence. It doesn't where you come from it is hard to live in a new land.
Aug 05, 2010 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
Aug 29, 2015 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
Judy King
Mar 16, 2011 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
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A disappointment. Too slow paced. It took forever for them to get into the Beautiful North. I got tired of the stereotypical Mexicans, Indians, and gringos. It tried hard to be funny and satirical but it didn't succeed with me. I was hoping for a Don Quixote like quest but this one was not so. Ending was strange and disconnected too.
Book Concierge
Book on CD narrated by Susan Ericksen

In the tiny coastal town of Tres Camarones, Sinaloa, Mexico, nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop and dreams about her father, who left for America years ago. Her Aunt Irma is campaigning for Mayor, and when a gang of bandidos begins to move in, the women and children of Tres Camarones realize that they are helpless – all the men have left for “el norte.” Inspired by a showing of Steve McQueen’s The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli and her girlfriends
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
Suzanne Crane
Dec 26, 2011 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
Jan 06, 2016 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
Julie Christine
Jun 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Julie Christine 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
Sep 19, 2010 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
May 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooks
I have read several of Urrea's books and have loved every one. Sadly, this one fell short. It is a story about a young Mexican woman illegally crossing the US border, to find her father. Nothing grabbed me here and I find it puzzling, because I adored his NF book, [The Devil's Highway] which took a penetrating look at the border patrol and illegal crossings. That one I highly recommend.
May 03, 2012 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
Mar 16, 2012 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
Jan 29, 2009 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.
Helga Cohen
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Luis Alberto Urrea is an award winning author. He is a member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame and was a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist. His stories contain the themes of borders, immigration and search for love and belonging. This novel is about the US/Mexican Border.

Into the Beautiful North, consists of a small town in Mexico where the men have immigrated to the US. A group of women, after seeing the movie “The Magnificent Seven”, decide to follow the men North and persuade them to return
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can't imagine a better escape during this pandemic than this wonderful novel.

It combines a coming of age story with a cross-border adventure filled with scary scenes and many laugh-out-loud moments, and as part of this quest novel, you get a real feel for the relationships of Mexicans and Americans and the border that separates them.

Nayeli, the protagonist, is the feisty, charming teenage soccer star of her small village of Tres Camarones in Sinoloa, on the southwest coast of Mexico. Her aunt
Leslye Davidson
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such a fun quick read, filled with quirky characters. Nayeli and her friends set out on an adventure to save their small Mexican town by illegally crossing over to the US to recruit Mexican men to come back home with them to Mexico. The inspiration is the Magnificent Seven. The subject of illegal immigration is so timely, I found it hard to believe the book was published in 2009. I also found it hard to believe that a man so wonderfully captured the voices of the heroine Nayeli and her two girlf ...more
Genevieve Brassard
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.75: Picked up this book ahead of author’s campus visit: a fun read about serious issues dealt with a light touch, and with great female characters driving the plot.
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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

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