Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea (Audio)

Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea on audio was a delight, especially with the voice and passion of Susan Ericksen.  Nayeli is a young girl working in a taco shop in Tres Camarones, who continues to idolize her father that left her and her mother many years ago.

Her home is under attack from bandits and drug dealers, but many residents have been abandoned by other men seeking the opportunities found in America.  While watching The Magnificent Seven with Yul Brynner, Nayeli and her friends — Tacho, Yolo, and Vampi — decide they are going to make a trek to America to bring back the seven they need to save their town.

The audio brings to life the accents, the culture, the beauty of each scene and the playful sparring between these characters and their new surroundings.  Ericksen’s passion for these characters and this story is clear, illuminating the innocence of Nayeli and her friends and the hardships they face.

From the colorful personalities of Nayeli’s gay boss, Tacho, to her vampire/Goth girlfriend Vampi and perky and whiny Yolo to the matriarch of the village Nayeli’s Aunt Irma, Urrea paints a mosaic of Mexico and the struggles of illegal immigrants and those seeking a better life.  Readers will by far enjoy the quirky Atomico a warrior from the dump outside Tijuana the most as he seeks to defend the four from the ills of the world.

My husband and I were riveted when the audio rolled us to work every morning.  Atomico was my husband’s favorite character because he was like a comic book character; “I AM ATOMICO.”  While the border crossings were the most exciting aspects of the novel for my husband, the end of the novel fell flat; he considered it an open ending as if there were more to come — that the journey had not ended.  Urrea’s writing is passionate and tangible, capturing the reader instantly and weaving a tale that envelops them completely.

Into the Beautiful North is one of the best novels I’ve read in 2009, but I plan to read this in hard copy as well.  As an aside, Anna of Diary of an Eccentric and I were able to meet Luis Alberto Urrea and Susan Eriksen at Book Expo America in May, thanks to the kind dragging of Kathy of Bermudaonion, Julie of Booking Mama, Amy from My Friend Amy, Miriam of Hachette Book Group.  Thanks gals!