Reading Together 2012 Blog

The Truth Behind the Fiction

 The first several chapters of Into the Beautiful North hint at the violent realities of modern day Mexico. In the first chapter we witness the menace of the bandidos and the result of their work is what ultimately sends Nayeli and her friends on their journey north. A desire to learn more about the effect that drug cartel violence is having on daily life in Mexico led me to a number of accounts that depicted such shocking violence and brutality they seemed fictional. Yet further reading revealed nothing but more complexity, corruption, fear and unbelievably horrific human behavior. Two stories related to the border town of Juarez, Mexico have resonated with me ever since. Sarah Hill’s 2010 story The War For Drugs from the Boston Review is an unflinching account of life in Juarez, showing how the traffickers, U.S. and Mexican politics, and mainly U.S. demand for illegal drugs have brought that city to its knees. Finding this story led to the wonderful discovery that Sarah Hill is in fact a faculty member with the Department of Anthropology at WMU and will present a program titled Modern Mexican Reality on Tuesday, March 13 at 6:30 at the Oshtemo Branch Library as a part of this year’s Reading Together programming. Please plan to attend, it is sure to be interesting. The other story Angels Send Message of Peace to Juarez Mexico is an amazing story about the powerful and artistic reaction of a group of teens in Juarez to the drug violence they witness daily in their city. When I first heard this incredible story I was immediately reminded of Nayeli and the group of teens that Luis Alberto Urrea invented to tell the story in Into the Beautiful North; and I was happy to find a glimmer of youthful hope in the otherwise grim picture of life in Mexico today.


Into the Beautiful North