Big Read Letter
It has been ten years since Roswell has last experienced a Big Read, a program funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, in which the whole community is invited to read a book selected from one of 32 chosen by the NEA and to join in one of more than a dozen events designed to “inspire conversation and discovery.” Under the auspices of Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and its librarian, Rollah Aston, a group of local educators and community leaders has chosen the book Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea as Roswell’s 2021 Big Read selection. The novel, which blends humor and pathos, is a tale that begins in a small town in Sinaloa, Mexico, whose menfolk have largely immigrated to the United States to find work. Inspired by the film The Magnificent Seven, a group of young women from the town decide to go to the U.S. to bring back the errant men to help protect the town from an encroaching drug cartel. As the young heroines travel from Mexico to the United States and cross the border with the help of coyotes, the reader experiences humor, frustration, anxiety, and culture shock along with the characters.
The timely and relatable themes that run through the book offer a variety of opportunities for community events: book discussions, writing contests, panel presentations on immigration and cross-border issues, public showing of films like The Magnificent Seven, workshops on Mexican culture, food, music, and art, and even an interview with the author, Mr. Urrea. To include younger readers, we will select books with similar cross-border themes and will work with the Roswell schools to develop engaging and educational activities for them. We will distribute copies of the novel widely throughout the community to ensure that everyone has a chance to read the book and participate in at least one activity.