Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, Into the Beautiful North is the story of an irresistible young woman's quest to find herself on both sides of the fence.
©2009 Luis Alberto Urrea; (P)2009 Tantor
Not only does Urrea do an excellent job of writing from many women's points of view, he also gives what most non Mexicans would not consider: "The other side of the story".
Glimpses into points of view and realities that, if you don't live in Mexico, you might never imagine.
IMO, there is no way any book could out do "The Hummingbird's Daughter" (and hopeflly it's upcoming sequel of the rest of Saint Teresita's life in AZ.)
This is not an epic book. It is simply very, very good and eductional.
Urrea is a great storyteller and uses language beautifully. His use of Spanish is integral to the beauty of his language. For that reason it is shocking to me that this production employed an actor who is not a native Spanish speaker and butchers the pronunciation of many words. I don't blame the actor. She appears to give it her best try and is very good outside of the Spanish issue. But I fault the producers for having so little insight into and respect for Urrea's work. I cannot finish this audio book and have purchased a print copy. Urrea is one of the few novelists who does a lovely job narrating his audio books (Barbara Kingsolver being another). I highly recommend Queen of America, which he narrates. This is another example of damage done by the lack of diversity in the industry. Someone attuned to Urrea's work and a native Spanish speaker would have understood the critical importance of having an actor who can do justice to the works' beautiful language.
First off, the story is empty of any depth or interest, the dialogue sophomoric, and the writing is lifeless and downright boring. This book is lacking in any meaning, and when the theme finally gets revealed I felt embarrassed for the silly characters, and shocked that the author was putting them, and me, through such a trivial life. Granted, I was expecting the same quality of writing and imaginative story telling of Urrea's first book, Hummingbird's Daughter, and it had none of it's captivating complexity, lyrical cadence, original thinking, magical beauty, and rich descriptive writing. Beautiful North is more like a first draft of a first book, not a sequel to the great book, Hummingbird's Daughter. It is hard to believe that Beautiful North is even written by the same author.
It is bad enough that the writing and story had nothing to offer. Why would the author choose a reader that just makes this very bad book worse? The reader of Beautiful North manages to make the Spanish sound flat and tinny, and the way she over-annunciates each syllable, it is more like she is trying to teach English than read it. Probably, no reader could make this uninteresting book worth the time and money, but her choppy, dull style of reading exaggerates the poor writing.
Consistent with the meaningless theme and lifeless writing in this book, the characters lack any depth and range. Once again, comparing to Hummingbird's Daughter, the sorry lack of development of character, puzzles me because in his first book, the author did an exceptional job at creating lovable characters with believable, interesting flaws. No one in Hummingbird's Daughter was simple, they had the full range of human emotion, with quirky and unique fullness.
What was Urrea doing when he wrote Beautiful North? What was he thinking? It is a mystery to me how he could have published such a bad book.
Make no mistake: We're all mammals here.
The story is very well-written and the performance was more than adequate.
It tells the story of the U.S./Mexico border with all its problems without demonizing those on either side.
Ms Ericksen did a very good job narrating the story. My only complaint is that she was clearly not a Spanish speaker. Though she did an adequate job with the Spanish in the story most of the time, she occasionally missed the stress completely. Though this seldom got in the way, a couple of times - such as confounding the words "esta" and "está" - made her difficult to understand.
Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.
This author is excellent and this story is excellent. I Highly recommend it. I loved his previous book, The Hummingbird's Daughter and I was very excited to hear this one. I was not disappointed. It gives a great look at live in Mexico.
An engaging though ambitious story, perhaps trying to do too much in one novel. He's a good writer, though. The reader had very poor Spanish pronunciation; it would have been better if it had been read by fine one with a more native accent. Such as the author himself.
A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!
Certainly a story about a young girl and her friends on a mission to the USA to find men and bring them back to her town in Mexico. Parts of it were interesting as they went about the quest, but overall, it fell flat and lacked inspiration.
I agree with others, that the characters lacked the depth of the characters in his other books.
It was satisfying given the current events in Mexico. Any other ending would be fortune telling.
The narration almost spoiled the story for me. The narrator made Irma sound like Ethel Merman rather than a Mexicana matriarch. Also, the characters sometimes did and sometimes did not have an accent that sounded more Eastern European than lovely Sinaloan.
No, the story is complete and satisfying.
I was a little disappointed with this book because the writing wasn't as good as Urrea's other novels, but I enjoyed the concept of the story and the plot. I think I would have been able to enjoy the cast of characters more with a better narrator and better accents.
This was a contemporary and sensitive portrayal of the clash of Mexican, American and Mexican-American cultures. Mr. Urrea knows his subject well and tells his tale, cleverly educating his reader about the how Mexicans embrace American culture, but on their own terms.
The performer was a good fit for the mood and character, and characters, of the Story. Her spanish accent was natural and unaffected and added to my enjoyment. But, her mispronunciation of a handful of spanish words was painfully distracting to a bilingual listener.
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