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The Distance Between Usby Reyna Grande
Synopses & Reviews
From an award-winning novelist and sought-after public speaker, an eye-opening memoir about life before and after illegally emigrating from Mexico to the United States.
After publishing two acclaimed and award-winning novels about the Mexican immigrant experience and the families forced to navigate its twists and turns, celebrated author Reyna Grande reveals her own troubled and triumphant story as an illegal immigrant in the heartfelt memoir The Distance Between Us.
Born in Mexico and raised by her grandparents after her parents left to find work in the U.S., at nine years old, Reyna enters the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant to live with her father. Filled with hope, she quickly realizes that life in America is far from perfect. Her father isn't the man she dreamed about all those years in Mexico. His big dreams for his children are what gets them across the border, but his alcoholism and rage undermine all his hard work and good intentions. Reyna finds solace from a violent home in books and writing, inspired by the Latina voices she reads. After an explosive altercation, Reyna breaks away, going on to become the first person in her family to obtain a higher education, earning a college degree and then an M.F.A. in Creative Writing.
At a time when immigration politics are at a boiling point in America, Reyna Grande is an important public voice for Mexican Americans and immigrants of every origin. The Distance Between Us has the power to change minds and hearts.
Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in this “compelling . . . unvarnished, resonant” (BookPage) story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries. As her parents make the dangerous trek across the Mexican border to “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side) in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced into the already overburdened household of their stern grandmother. When their mother at last returns, Reyna prepares for her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father.
Funny, heartbreaking, and lyrical, The Distance Between Us poignantly captures the confusion and contradictions of childhood, reminding us that the joys and sorrows we experience are imprinted on the heart forever, calling out to us of those places we first called home.
“A brutally honest book…akin to being the Angela’s Ashes of the modern Mexican immigrant experience” (Los Angeles Times).
When Reyna Grande’s father leaves his wife and three children behind in Mexico to make the dangerous trek across the border to the United States, he promises he will soon return from “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side) with enough money to build them a dream house. As months turn into years, his promises become harder to believe. Eventually he summons his wife to join him, and Reyna and her siblings remain in Mexico in the already overburdened household of their stern, unsmiling grandmother. When their mother returns, the reunion sets the stage for a dramatic new chapter in Reyna’s young life: her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years—her long-absent father.
In this heartbreaking, groundbreaking memoir, award-winning writer Reyna Grande brings to life her tumultuous early years, capturing all the confusion and contradictions of childhood torn between two parents and two countries. The Distance Between Us reminds us that the joys and sorrows of childhood are always with us, invisible to the eye but imprinted on the heart, forever calling out to us of those places we first called home.
About the Author
Reyna Grande is the author of two award-winning novels. Across a Hundred Mountains received an American Book Award, and Dancing with Butterflies was the recipient of an International Latino Book Award. She lives in Los Angeles.
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