How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

My airplane reading this week: 'Into the Beautiful North'

Photo by Nathan Gibbs/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A family looks north into the United States from Playas de Tijuana, January 2009

Flying to Chicago for the Latinos in Social Media (#LATISM) conference this week involved, as usual, a good book – one I’ll be reading again tonight on my flight home. So allow me to share a bit of my airplane reading, the novel “Into the Beautiful North” by Luis Alberto Urrea.

Urrea, a Tijuanense by birth, is one of my favorite authors on all things related to the border and Mexico. In 2004, just as I was taking a job covering immigration on the U.S.-Mexico border, I was inspired by the remarkable narrative storytelling of his nonfiction “The Devil’s Highway.” The book pieced together the last, desperate days of a group of men who perished in the dessert near Yuma, Arizona. Urrea retraced their journey via court documents, survivors’ accounts and time spent with the Border Patrol, filling in the blanks with the imagined conversations of their final hours. The book also provided a glimpse of the difficult work done by agents who patrol the border desert.