Rarely does contemporary literature serve as a medium to bring a community together in today’s fast-paced society. This March, the Friends of the Fairfield Public Library attempt to do just that, through the Library’s third annual “One Book, One Town” program.

“One Book, One Town” is embarking upon its third successful year of community programming, centered around a piece of literature that delivers an important message to society. This year’s selection is Into the Beautiful North, a novel by author Luis Alberto Urrea, about the implications of immigration to America for those left behind in Mexico.

“It took us from June to October to choose the book …We want to really introduce the community to something new,” said Karen Ronald, town librarian of Fairfield. The book was selected by the Friends of the Fairfield Public Library, and the numerous other partners of the program, including the University.

Into the Beautiful North follows nineteen-year-old Nayeli, who wakes up one day to the realization that the majority of men in her small Mexican town, including her father, have left to find work in America. Mainly populated by women and children, the town has no line of defense against the drug traffickers and other criminals who essentially take over the town. While watching the movie “The Magnificent Seven,” Nayeli resolves to travel north herself in search of seven men to return and repopulate her town.

Though the subject matter is heavy, Urrea successfully incorporates humor into the tale of this young girl’s brave journey — a writing style not unlike the author’s vivacious personality.

In a promotional video for the novel, Urrea said, “I don’t think a lot of Americans understand that many people in Mexico don’t like this. It’s not as if Mexicans have an illegal immigration organ in their body that at fourteen kicks off a hormone that shows them how to come to the United States illegally. It’s a question of desperation for the vast majority of them, and it causes shame and embarrassment at home.”

This unexamined point of view is what drove the program directors to choose Urrea’s novel.

“His books are really about the immigration experience … [Into the Beautiful North] is a little bit of a different take on that.  It will certainly promote conversation and dialogue,” said Ronald.

Schedule of Events

For a complete schedule of events, times and locations, visit the One Book, One Town website. (http://onebookonetown.wordpress.com/events/) Events are designed to incorporate all age groups into the discussion, including children. Here is an overview of programs that Fairfield students may be interested in:

Book Discussion with Dr. Mark Schenker—Thursday, Mar. 4

Dr. Schenker, the Associate Dean of Yale College and Dean of Academic Affairs, will conduct an in-depth book discussion to be held at the Fairfield Public Library. According to Ronald, “He’s a brilliant scholar, and he’ll see things in the book that no one else will.” Although we’re all buried under our own work, this event is sure to be a hit.

Mexico and its Traditions with Amie Guyette Hall—Thursday, Mar. 11

This event, held at the Fairfield Woods Branch Library, will teach audiences about “Milagros and chocolate, both part of Mexico’s magical and symbolic cultural history,” according to the program website. Satisfy your sweet tooth, while learning something new about Mexico’s unique heritage.

Film Presentation: The Magnificent Seven—Sunday, Mar. 7

See the film that inspired Nayeli, heroine of Into the Beautiful North.

Salsa Party: Experience the Music, Dance and Food of Mexico—Saturday, Mar. 13

Ever wanted to learn how to salsa? Here’s your chance! What could be better than free dance lessons and authentic Mexican food?

An Evening with Luis Alberto Urrea—Wednesday, Mar. 24

This night with the dynamic author himself is the culminating event of the program. Register now, as the event is sure to sell out quickly. According to Ronald, over 300 people have already signed up. Save your spot now!

Most programs are free and open to the public.

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