Our book club red “Into the Beautiful North” for April; having read “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” last year, we were looking forward to Urrea’s latest. This novel takes the current immigration conversation and turns it upside down. It’s the story of Mexican women from a small southern town who decide they are tired of living in a town without men. All of the men have gone north to the US for work. And so, they create a plan to go get their men back.
There are several notable characters and the writing is colorful. That said, writing a novel that competes with the beauty of “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” is tough. Kingsolver has yet to top “The Poisonwood Bible.” Marquez will never top “100 Years of Solitude.” Courtenay’s “Power of One” was the one.
So, “Into the Beautiful North” is fun, light-hearted reading. But it isn’t Urrea’s best. We collectively agreed we wanted more. More detail, more character development, more resolution.
Three of five bananas
Similarly, in the easy reading category — “The Solitude of Prime Numbers” is an enjoyable read. I bought this on a day trip to Colorado last month and managed to finish it in one day, with flights both directions. It is one of those novels that I looked up and 200 pages had gone by. I was fully engrossed in the characters. And these characters are memorable. I’ve found myself thinking of their story several times in the last month, wondering where they are today — as if they are long, lost friends.
This novel didn’t teach me anything new about culture or take me to some far off land where I’d never traveled. But novels like this teach me more about humanity, and as a writer — more about dialog and phrasing.
Four out of five bananas, absoloodle.
I’ve also read several health books lately while riding the primal eating train. The title is horrible, but the information was worth my time — “Why You Get Fat.” I won’t preach about primal eating, but I will say I’m seeing sweeping changes in weight for friends who are following it. In my half-ass attempts, I’ve noticed how grains effect my digestion. Like so many other wild claims and great intentions I’ve shouted publicly from the blog, I’ll instead say I’m working on eating this way. (Also, a great primal eating blog.)
Four out of five bananas.
And a false start — I recently tried reading “The Diagnosis.” No go. I got 100 pages into this novel and I couldn’t enjoy the character’s mania dealing with temporary amnesia. As it goes with so many books I read, the content has to fit my mood. Thankfully, I got my Colorado library card yesterday and checked out four new novels for the next three weeks. (These lovely deer were chomping away in a front yard on my walk home. Oh, Colorado life — you are keeping things interesting. If I can make a suggestion? Fewer snakes, more deer. I saw my first evil slithery monster yesterday too. I would have taken a photo, but I was too busy screaming at the top of my lungs and fleeing in mania.)
First up, “The History of Love,” by Nicole Krauss.
What are you reading?