Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
Back Bay Books, Little, Brown and Company, NY, 2009. (YA and Adult readers)
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.