Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
In this big-hearted and delightful novel, nineteen-year-old Nayeli lives in a remote Mexican village, Tres Camarones. She is concerned by how many men in the village have left to go north – and the nasty drug dealers who seem intent on taking over in their absence – so she decides to travel to ‘the beautiful north’ to recruit a group of men to come back to the village. Several of her friends join her on her quest to bring back her own Magnificent Seven (‘Siete Maganificos’) to protect the town and they journey north, crossing illegally into America. Along the way Nayeli finds herself in many unexpected and sometimes dangerous predicaments, and they encountering a host of different characters, some of whom are helpful, while others are intent on thwarting their mission. Nayeli also plans to find her father, who left for America many years ago. But how will she find him when America is so vast? And will they succeed in returning with the men they need to revitalize their town?
This is a hugely entertaining book, with a cast of memorable and quirky characters and the main heroine, Nayeli, is particularly spirited and can certainly hold her own in a tough situation. Into the Beautiful North is a wonderful adventure that is sometimes heartbreaking but more often riotously funny. Luis Alberto Urrea is a fantastic storyteller and his meticulous detail makes this story come vividly to life. I was hooked from the opening pages. This is a novel that is simply irresistible!