The River Flows North
by Graciela Limon
Publication Date: March 31, 2009
Takes the reader on the dangerous trek so many migrants undertake in search of a better lifeLook Inside
In Sonora, a group of immigrants circles around a coyote, Leonardo Cerda, who will—for a price—lead them across the treacherous desert to the United States. Fearful that Cerda may be one of those who will collect their money up front and then leave them stranded to die, the travelers ultimately are forced to put their trust in him and begin the dangerous crossing to a new life. Afraid even of each other, they initially avoid eye contact or conversation. But as the three-day passage across the blistering landscape progresses, the fight to survive the grueling trip ensures that their lives—and deaths—are linked forever.
While trudging along, placing one exhausted foot in front of the other, the travelers each remember their lives and the reasons they have been forced to abandon their land, homes and loved ones. Among the immigrants is Menda Fuentes, a salvadoreña, the only member of her family to survive a massacre during her country’s civil war. Then there is Julio Escalante and his young grandson Manuelito, who pay the full fee even though they plan to go only halfway. By their side is Encarnación Padilla, an ancient indigenous woman who has survived ostracism and her involvement in the Zapatista uprising. Next to her walk Nicanor and Borrego Osuna, two brothers who suffer the ultimate indignity just to make it to the United States. Finally, there is Armando Guerrero, shifty, suspicious-looking, and clearly different from the rest because of his fancy clothes as well as the mysterious bag to which he clings.
In addition to confronting their own internal demons, they must also face the dangers that they encounter on the trail: poisonous snakes, debilitating dehydration and exhaustion, and a ferocious sandstorm that tears the group apart. This riveting novel explores the lives behind the news stories and confirms Limón’s status as one of the country’s premiere Latinas writing about issues that affect us all.
“Graciela Limón’s first novel, In Search of Bernabé, leaves the reader with that special hunger that can be created only by a newly discovered writer. Ms. Limón’s prose is self-assured and engrossing …. deserves a large audience.” —The New York Times Book Review on In Search of Bernabé
“Downright hypnotic.” —The Washington Post Book World on Song of the Hummingbird
“[This novel] should awaken the conscience and compassion that drive and haunt every reader … a novel of absolute stylistic and social integrity.” –Booklist on The Memories of Ana Calderón
“She is as sure-footed in the terrain of compelling storytelling as her indigenous Mexican Indian characters are in their huaraches.” —The Washington Post Book World on Erased Faces
“In her absorbing, politically engaged work, Limón restores dignity and identity to the inhabitants of a violent land, sketching tangled landscapes where faces are constantly erased and swept into anonymity.” –Publishers Weekly on Erased Faces
“Murder. Madness. Execution. Suicide … all of the plot workings of an exciting modern take on Euripides’ Medea and the Mexican legend of La Llorona … Limón hits all of the right notes.” —Los Angeles Times on Left Alive
Graciela Limon is the critically-acclaimed and award-winning author of four novels: The Day of the Moon (1999), Song of the Hummingbird (1996), The Memories of Ana Calderón (1994) and In Search of Bernabé (1993). In Search of Bernabé, translated and published in Spanish as En busca de Bernabé in 1997, is the recipient of an American Book Award. It was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times’ Art Sydenburg First Novel Award and was named a “Notable Book of the Year” by The New York Times Book Review. Limon is Professor Emeritus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where she served as a professor of U.S. Latina/o Literature and Chair of the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies.