What I’m Reading

Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

Back Bay Books, Little, Brown and Company, NY, 2009. (YA and Adult readers)

into the beautiful north

I loved this book.  LOVED IT.

After listening to an interview with Urrea in an On Being podcast, I was so impressed with his responses, his poetry reading, and his humor that I ordered the book.

When I was reading the end of the story, I think I actually shouted at our heroine, “No!  Don’t go away now!”  I was instantly struck by the fear that I was turning into my Aunt Helen who got so swept away during a Broadway play that she yelled advice to  the actors.

Urrea’s characters are broad and deep, original, and delightful.  I enjoyed the back-and- forth with English and Spanish, and the street talk.  Atomiko, in particular, was a stroke of brilliance.

Into the Beautiful North is a quest novel, but it also provides an education for those of us who don’t know of the conditions at the U.S./Mexican border.

These days, I firmly control my book-buying and use the library system.  However, I’m glad to own Into the Beautiful North, because I plan to read it again, more carefully.  The first read is for the story.  The second read is for the writer.  I kept asking myself, “How does he DO that?”  I want to write like Urrea, to be able to use description, devices, and humor in such a smooth, fresh way.

Regarding humor, my stories tend toward the serious, even though Archer and Carl the Third are amusing in Tangled in Magic. I just take the world too seriously, even worlds with talking birds and magic.

It’s tough to be learning a craft in my golden years, but certainly a welcome challenge that keeps me working.

Thanks, Luis Alberto Urrea, for a wonderful book.



Guided by Magic: Coming in September


GBMCoverBeeKim copy

Guided by Magic, the second book of the Karakesh Chronicles, will make its appearance this fall.  I’m still amazed that the characters who began in Book I, Tangled in Magic, multiplied and insisted that their stories be told, too.  I’ve stopped for now at Book V, although there are more characters with stories knocking at my door.

For me, the most significant theme of Guided by Magic is the bond between sisters.  And “sisters” includes females who are both related and not.  In the book, the sisters seek and support each other, and become strong women who know their minds.

I have a dear sister who lives in California.  For many years, she has “marched to her own drummer,” traveling the world and creating surprising, whimsical, and beautiful art of beads, fabric, paper, and fiber.

pgoat                                                         jan's collage

You can view her work at persimmon goat designs on Facebook.