Into the Beautiful North: A Novel


By Luis Alberto Urrea

Into the Beautiful North is the story of 19-year-old Nayeli and her friends, who live in the tiny Mexican village of Tres Camarones,  more than 1,000 miles from the border. Nearly all of the men of the village, including Nayeli’s father, have gone north to the U.S. to find work, and drug-dealing thugs have recently begun to target the village, anxious to profit from drug-buying American surfers who frequent the nearby beaches.

One night, Nayeli and her friends attend a screening of John Sturges’s classic western film, The Magnificent Seven. Inspired by the film, Nayeli vows to go on a mission to the U.S. to bring back seven men—including her father—to defend Tres Camarones against the drug-dealing bandidos. She then persuades her loyal band of three friends to accompany her on the dangerous journey, and the quest begins.

Lacking influence, money or power, Nayeli and her friends make their way to the border towns and into el norte. There they face obstacles and are continually tested. Into the Beautiful North is a new approach to the classic hero’s journey.

About the Author

Luis Alberto Urrea was born in Tijuana, Mexico to a Mexican father and an American mother. The critically acclaimed and best-selling author of 13 books has won numerous awards for his poetry, fiction, and essays. The Devil’s Highway, his 2004 nonfiction account of a group of Mexican immigrants lost in the Arizona desert, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Urrea’s most recent novel, Into the Beautiful North, earned a citation of excellence from the American Library Association’s Rainbow Project. Into the Beautiful North, The Devil’s Highway, and The Hummingbird’s Daughter have been chosen by more than 30 different cities and colleges for One Book community read programs.

Urrea attended the University of California at San Diego where he earned an undergraduate degree in writing and did his graduate studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He has taught writing and fiction workshops at Harvard and has taught at Massachusetts Bay Community College, and the University of Colorado. He was a writer in residence at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Related Events

Other Side of Immigration

GR Reads: The Movies – The Other Side of Immigration

Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 7:00 pm
Main Library – 111 Library St NE

Based on over 700 interviews in Mexican towns where about half the population has left to work in the United States, The Other Side of Immigration asks why so many Mexicans come to the U.S. and what happens to the families and communities they leave behind. Through an approach that is both subtle and thought-provoking, filmmaker Roy Germano provides a perspective on undocumented immigration rarely witnessed by American eyes, challenging audiences to imagine more creative and effective solutions to the problem. After the screening of the film, Germano will lead a question and answer session about the film.

White Placeholder

Cooking with El Granjero

Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 5:00 pm
Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 5:00 pm
El Granjero Mexican Grill – 950 Bridge St NW

Join us for a bilingual demonstration on how to make El Granjero’s delicious Fresh Cactus Salad with cilantro, onions, and tomatoes. After the demonstration, stay and order dinner! Space is limited and registration is required. Register at

If you like this book, you might also enjoy:

Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande

Amigoland by Oscar Casares

Caramelo, o Puro Cuento by Sandra Cisneros

The Devil’s Highway: a True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia

Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario

Just Like Us: the True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe

The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez