Title: Into the Beautiful North
Author: Luis Alberto Urrea
Release Date: June 2, 2009
Publisher: Tantor Media
Voice Actor: Susan Ericksen
Finished Reading: December 31, 2014
About: “Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the United States to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn’t the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village–they’ve all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men–her own ‘Siete Magníficos’–to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over.
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.”
I snagged this book as an audio for my car. I was standing in the library and in need of something to listen to in my car. My co-worker recommended this. She said there’s some Spanish in it and warned me that the voice actor isn’t the best. I’m inclined to agree. I’m more than inclined – I fell off the lazy boy toward she’s not the best.
This is the time where I usually rave and bow down before the voice actor, but Ericksen should not have been the choice for this book. Yes, she has a beautiful voice, but she’s not a native Spanish speaker nor has she studied it extensively. How do I know this? She mispronounced
several many words wrong. I speak Spanish, but I wouldn’t say that I’m fluent or anything close to it. There are a ton of phrases and terminologies that I just don’t know. That being said, I shouldn’t be chosen for this audiobook and neither should Ericksen. When the main characters (almost all of the characters) are from Mexico, when the punchline of jokes are in Spanish, when there’s Spanglish peppered in throughout the book, I would think that the voice actor should be a Spanish-speaking voice actor. Were there none that were around? Was this a choice by Urrea? Was this a publisher choice and they had a budget or were running out of time and Ericksen was down he hall? I don’t know, but I do know she wasn’t the best.
Ok. Let me breathe for a second.
Moving on to more positive news. Urrea is a great writer; the way he goes back and forth between English and Spanish is flawless. I loved it. The idea of the story is hilarious as well. The whole concept of bringing Mexicans back home to fight the bandidos. There were several instances when La Osa would say something that we, as Americans, have said about Mexicans. I’m not sure the line exactly (*shakes fist at audiobook), but it was something about other nationalities coming in and taking their jobs or taking their cultures or SOMETHING like that. I giggled.
The characters a beautiful. They could be actual people. Their characteristics were seamless and beautifully flawed as well. Coming from broken families, broken village, poor neighborhoods – it all adds up to some amazing characters. Their willful and somehow still very innocent and pure (for the most part).
I did have an issue though. There was (I wanna say) nine discs, and by disc eight there was still a <em>ton</em> of stuff that needed to be wrapped up. I had no idea if this was a series that I was unaware of or what. The resolution was very fast and super rushed. I wanted it to be drawn out more. With that huge journey the girls go on, they deserve more than what was written as a resolution. Alas, that’s the way it is.
<strong>My rating and why:</strong> I gave this book three stars! I read it and it was ooook. While the story idea is just what I wanted, it fell short in other aspects. I wanted more from Ericksen. I wanted more of a wrap-up. Meh. Maybe I would have liked it more if I read a physical copy – another jab at Ericksen.
Your turn! Have you read this book? Have you read anything else by Urrea or a different Spanglish book? How do you feel about different languages thrown in to books? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.
This marks the LAST book review of 2014. Happy dance! (I really did a little awkward arm/hip/body roll thing in my chair.)
Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!