Three Mexican senoritas <\i>cross the border with a gay
escort in this good-humored road novel from Urrea (The
Hummingbird's Daughter<\i>, 2005, etc.).The coastal town of
Tres Camarones has gone from sleepy to desolate since its men went
north to "Los Yunaites," looking for work. Luckily there are two
strong women in town. Middle-aged Irma, a no-nonsense former
bowling champion, is running for mayor. Her niece Nayeli, a
dark-skinned beauty one year out of high school, is her campaign
manager. Nayeli misses her father, one of the migrants, and
treasures his one postcard, from Kankakee, Ill. After Irma is
elected, Nayeli turns her attention to the crime wave she sees
coming - though all we've been shown are two out-of-luck drug
dealers. Inspired by a screening of The Magnificent Seven
<\i>at the Cine Pedro Infante, she decides to head north and
bring back Mexican cops or soldiers to help her deal with the
bandidos<\i>. Joining Nayeli in her quest are Yolo and Vampi,
her "homegirls," and Tacho, gay owner of La Mano Caida Taqueria and
Internet cafe. The premise is weak, and Urrea keeps everything
cartoon simple so he can get his show on the road. The town takes
up a collection and gives the girls a big send-off. In Tijuana,
Nayeli fights off some bad guys before being befriended by Atomiko,
ersatz warrior and authentic trash-picker, who insists on joining
their mission. Using tunnels, they cross the border successfully on
their second attempt. (This is well-covered ground for Urrea: See
his nonfiction border trilogy, beginning with Across the
Wire<\i>, 1992.) In a silly bit of farce, Tacho is arrested
as a suspected al-Qaeda member. Meanwhile, the ladies spend time in
San Diego. Their recruiting goes well. Yolo and Vampi find
boyfriends. Nayeli, still single, goes back on the road with the
liberated Tacho. They are heading for Illinois, her father's
putative home, but the momentum has been lost and the ending is a
fizzle.Minor work from a writer who has done much better. (Kirkus
Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican
village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the US 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 Magnificos"--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
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