The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us

A Memoir

eBook - 2014
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Mago pointed to a spot on the dirt floor and reminded me that my umbilical cord was buried there. "That way," Mami told the midwife, "no matter where life takes her, she won't ever forget where she came from." Then Mago touched my belly button ... She said that my umbilical cord was like a ribbon that connected me to Mami. She said, "It doesn't matter that there's a distance btween us now. That cord is there forever." When Reyna Grande's father leaves his wife and three children behind in a village 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 where they can all live together. His promises become harder to believe as months turn into years. When he summons his wife to join him, Reyna and her siblings are deposited in the already overburdened household of their stern, unsmiling grandmother. The three siblings are forced to look out for themselves; in childish games they find a way to forget the pain of abandonment and learn to solve very adult problems. When their mother at last 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 extraordinary memoir, award-winning writer Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years, capturing all the confusion and contradictions of childhood, especially one spent torn between two parents and two countries. Elated when she feels the glow of her father's love and approval, Reyna knows that at any moment he might turn angry or violent. Only in books and music and her rich imaginary life does she find solace, a momentary refuge from a world in which every place feels like "El Otro Lado." The Distance Between Us captures one girl's passage from childhood to adolescence and beyond. A funny, heartbreaking, lyrical story, it 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.
Publisher: New York : Washington Square Press, 2014
ISBN: 9781451661804
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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From Library Staff

In the start of this autobiography, young Reyna Grande is growing up in Mexico, separated from her parents who have moved to the United States looking for work. In the second part, we learn about Reyna's life after she comes to live with her dad, who is an undocumented immigrant in the United St... Read More »

List - Latinx nonfiction
HCL_nonfiction Apr 18, 2016

Also available as an eBook. Also available on eAudio.

Also available as an eBook and on eAudio.

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Oct 24, 2020

A powerful memoir and the writing is phenomenal. I hope that LPL will consider choosing this book for Read Across Lawrence in the future.

Aug 17, 2019

****Beautiful book*****

Jul 07, 2019

This was a very readable and emotional memoir by a gifted writer. Grande tells her story of her early childhood in Mexico, her immigration to the U.S. when she was 9, and continues through her young adulthood. She foregoes the omniscient narrator pose and instead tells her stories through the eyes of her 4-year and 8-year and 15-year old selves; not an easy task but she succeeds beautifully. To call it an "immigration" story both politicizes the memories and denies the intimacy of Grande's tales. This is a family story, told from the POVs of Grande and her siblings. It taught me a lot about modern Mexican-American culture.

Jun 17, 2019

Thanks to metaphor, imagery, and siblings who can help fill in gaps in her memory, Reyna’s memoir is captivating and educational. She describes children with distended bellies full of worms, scorpions crawling on the walls and stinging them, and constant lice issues. The story is never too depressing in a way that made me want to stop reading. Reyna asserts outcomes that let the reader know her siblings are all right. For example, when Carlos is very sick as a boy and I wondered if he would die, Reyna reveals they learned when he was thirty that he had contracted hepatitis, the explanation for why he was in such pain. Knowing he makes it to at least thirty relieved some anxiety I felt. Reyna doesn’t “spoil” the story often; it’s just enough for a reader to have hope.

Apr 14, 2018

Both spouse and I read after recommended in immigration class he took. Tells a very different coming-of-age story about a real-life Reyna and her siblings, their lives in Mexico left in the care of relatives for years and Los Angeles as illegal immigrants. Recommended.

Apr 06, 2018

Not so easy to begin reading a book about kids with lice and tapeworms, living in squalor without loving parents to care for them. I had to put it down several times before I continued to read. But the beautiful, clear, honest, sweet writing hooked me and I read the last two-thirds in one sitting.

This is a book that lived with me in my head long after I finished. This is a story that resonates with more than just immigrants and people from poor countries. This is a journey through sadness, love, luck, fortune, appreciation, joy, heartbreak, and poverty. And through it all, the author is just a completely beautiful, positive, adorable person who has more grit and soul than almost anyone I know in real life.

One of those books that, when you're watching the news, you think of this woman's journey and how current events would affect her or someone in her family. Isn't that why we read?

Mar 06, 2017

This is a really wonderful autobiography about crossing the Mexican border as a child and adjusting to an entirely new life and culture. If you're thinking of reading this, go for it, because you won't regret it.

ArapahoeStaff1 Feb 15, 2017

This is a sad, but beautiful account of a real immigrant to the United States. Reyna is a phenomenal storyteller/biographer, and I loved that she put her struggles and successes as a writer into this story of family, hope, and friendship as well. This memoir is going to be great for those wanting to know what it's like to live in Mexico and work hard to survive and make the best life they can.


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