After publishing two acclaimed novels about the Mexican immigrant experience, Reyna Grande chose to reveal her own troubled and triumphant story as an illegal immigrant in this beautifully written and heartfelt memoir. 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. While her father has big dreams for his children, his alcoholism and rage undermine all his hard work and good intentions. Finding solace from the violence, Reyna turned toward books and reading, and ultimately became the first person in her family to obtain a higher education. At a time when immigration politics are at a boiling point in America, Reyna Grande offers an intimate glimpse into the Mexican-American experience, and we are left gifted not only by her honesty, but by her startling and stoic prose that opens up to the wider questions about the lines between loyalty, love, and accepting one’s true self.
In this inspirational and unflinchingly honest memoir, acclaimed author Reyna Grande describes her childhood torn between the United States and Mexico, and shines a light on the experiences, fears, and hopes of those who choose to make the harrowing journey across the border.
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.
Also available in Spanish as La distancia entre nosotros.
About the Author
Reyna Grande is an award-winning author, motivational speaker, and writing teacher. As a girl, she crossed the US–Mexico border to join her family in Los Angeles, a harrowing journey chronicled in The Distance Between Us, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist that has been adopted as the common read selection by over twenty schools and colleges and fourteen cities across the country. Her other books include the novels Across a Hundred Mountains, winner of a 2007 American Book Award, and Dancing with Butterflies, and The Distance Between Us, Young Reader’s Version. She lives in Woodland, CA with her husband and two children. Visit ReynaGrande.com.
One of the Best Adult Books 4 Teens 2012 — School Library Journal
One the 15 Best Books of 2012 — The Christian Science Monitor “In this poignant memoir about her childhood in Mexico, Reyna Grande skillfully depicts another side of the immigrant experience—the hardships and heartbreaks of the children who are left behind. Through her brutally honest firsthand account of growing up in Mexico without her parents, Grande sheds light on the often overlooked consequence of immigration—the disintegration of a family.” — Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize winner, and author of Enrique's Journey
Award-winning novelist (Across a Hundred Mountains) Grande captivates and inspires in her memoir. Raised in Mexico in brutal poverty during the 1980s, four-year-old Grande and her two siblings lived with their cruel grandmother after both parents departed for the U.S. in search of work. Grande deftly evokes the searing sense of heartache and confusion created by their parents’ departure. Eight years later her father returned and reluctantly agreed to take his children to the States. Yet life on the other side of the border was not what Grande imagined: her father’s new girlfriend’s indifference to the three children becomes more than apparent. Though Grande’s father continually stressed the importance of his children obtaining an education, his drinking resulted in violence, abuse, and family chaos. Surrounded by family turmoil, Grande discovered a love of writing and found solace in library books, and she eventually graduated from high school and went on to become the first person in her family to graduate from college. Tracing the complex and tattered relationships binding the family together, especially the bond she shared with her older sister, the author intimately probes her family’s history for clues to its disintegration. Recounting her story without self-pity, she gracefully chronicles the painful results of a family shattered by repeated separations and traumas (Aug.)
— Publishers Weekly: Starred Review
“A brutally honest book…akin to being the “Angela’s Ashes” of the modern Mexican immigrant experience.” — LA Times
“Reyna Grande is a fierce, smart, shimmering light of a writer with an important story to tell.” — Cheryl Strayed
“I’ve been waiting for this book for decades. The American story of the new millennium is the story of the Latino immigrant, yet how often has the story been told by the immigrant herself? What makes Grande’s beautiful memoir all the more extraordinary is that, through this hero’s journey, she speaks for millions of immigrants whose voices have gone unheard.” — Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
“The sadness at the heart of Grande’s story is unrelenting; this is the opposite of a light summer read. But that’s OK, because . . . this book should have a long shelf life.” — Slate
“A timely and a vivid example of how poverty and immigration can destroy a family.” — The Daily Beast
“Grande consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence.” — Kirkus Reviews
“The poignant yet triumphant tale Grande tells of her childhood andeventual illegal immigration puts a face on issues that stir vehement debate.” — Booklist
“Powerful, harrowing.” — San Antonio Express News
“Eloquent, honest storytelling. This book would be fabulous required reading for college freshmen or, even better, for freshman members of Congress,” — Washington Independent Review of Books
“An important piece of America’s immigrant history.” — BookPage
“Accomplishes one of the great things books can do: make an abstract idea real.” — Christian Science Monitor
“Heart-warming. . . . Even with the challenges of learning English, earning good grades and fighting her way through turbulent adolescence, Grande emerged as a successful writer whose prose has the potential to touch the generation of youth whose story is so reminiscent of her own.” — NBC Latino
“Generous and humble. . . . Makes palpable a human dilemma and dares us to dismiss it.” — The California Report
“Many of us find it difficult to practice diplomacy with our relatives. But when typical family squabbles are complicated by national borders—as they are in Reyna Grande’s excellent new memoir—the stakes are raised far higher than ‘Who’s cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year?’” — Texas Observer
“Grande never flinches in describing her surroundings and feelings, while her resilience and ability to empathize allow her to look back with a compassion that makes this story one that everyone should read.” — School Library Journal
“A deeply personal coming-of-age story that extols the power of self-reliance and the love of books.” — Los Angeles Review of Books