c2009 Fiction; Grades 9+; 342 p.
Nominated for ALA’s 2010 Alex Award
Booklist's Adult Books for Young Adults 2009
Booklist Starred Review: If you are a judo-practicing, butt-kicking 19-year-old Mexican woman in a town with only one youngish man and he's gay you might decide to go to El Norte to recruit illegal immigrant men to revive your village. And Naveli, a twenty-first-century female Don Quixote with a three-person posse that includes her gay boss, does exactly that. This wonderfully funny, occasionally sad novel combines elements of the picaresque with the joie de vivre and startling coincidences of a road-trip movie. Urrea's knowledge of immigrant life, the rigors of poverty, and how being poor affects everyday existence provides the gritty details that make characters and places come alive. Sardonic humor, rugged details of the working-class poor, and the exotic, often bizarre characters all contribute to an outstanding reading treat. Fans of Urrea's nonfiction and his Kiriyama Prize winner, The Hummingbird's Daughter (2005), will probably not expect this lush, rollicking novel of quests, self-discovery, and romance. But once committed to the trip readers will have no trouble staying till the bittersweet and triumphant end.