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The Distance Between Us: A Memoir Hardcover – August 28, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 176 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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

"Captivates and inspires . . . . Tracing the complex and tattered relationships binding the family together. --Publishers Weekly (Starred Review).

"Reyna Grande's extraordinary journey towards the American dream will be an inspiration to anyone who has ever dreamed of a better life.”

—Ligiah Villalobos, Writer and Executive Producer of La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon)

“Reyna Grande is a fierce, smart, shimmering light of a writer with an important story to tell.” (Cheryl Strayed Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail )

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. Reyna lives in Los Angeles.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451661770
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451661774
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Reyna Grande is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, The Distance Between Us, which the Los Angeles Times hailed as "the Angela's Ashes of the modern Mexican immigrant experience." A National Book Critics Circle Awards finalist, the Distance Between Us is about Grande's life before and after coming to the U.S as an undocumented child immigrant. It is about what is lost and what is gained in the pursuit of a better life. The Distance Between Us is the 2014 One Maryland/One Book Selection and it is the Common Reading book at colleges and universities across the nation. Grande's first novel, Across A Hundred Mountains (Atria 2006), received an American Book Award (2007),the El Premio Aztlan Literary Award (2006), and a Latino Books Into Movies Award (2010). Grande's second novel, Dancing with Butterflies, was published in October 2009 to critical acclaim. It was the recipient of a 2010 International Latino Book Award and was selected by Las Comadres Para Las Americas National Book Club. Born in Mexico in 1975, Grande was raised by her grandparents after her parents left her behind while they worked in the U.S. She came to the U.S. at the age of nine as an undocumented immigrant and went on to become the first person in her family to obtain a higher education. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and Film and Video from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University. She is a sought-after speaker at middle/high schools, colleges and universities across the nation, and teaches creative writing workshops.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Distance Between Us" may be the most important book you read this year. No matter what your politics are, the immigration debate is definitely one of the most, if not the absolute most, contentious issues of this tumultuous election season. It becomes easy after awhile to let the images of fences, government legislation, and faceless bigotry cloud our perspectives. Reyna Grande has provided us with a very personal narrative, one that puts a special "face" on the issue.

The face belongs to little Reyna...a four year old resident of Iguala,Mexico, who is delegated to the care of her paternal grandparents when her parents make the decision to flee (illegaly) to "El Otro Lados" (The United States) to earn enough money to eventually return to Mexico and their children to build their "dream house." Reyna is the youngest of three, her older brother and sister provide much needed solace to Reyna during the ordeal, which lasts way, way too long.

We follow the Grande children through their breathtaking struggle to cope with surviving the life of "little orphans" in Mexico and all the way through the difficult path that comes with the remainder of their childhood. All of it expressed through the musings of Reyna, or "Nena" as she is lovingly referred to by her "little mother", her sister, Mago. As memories perceived through the eyes of a child, become the reader's guide, the book takes us on an intimate tour of the Mexican immigrant's experience both left behind in Mexico and across the perilous border into El Otro Lados.

This book is not as heavy on poetry, beautiful prose, and magical realism as many previous Latina/Chicana pieces of literature that I have read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a Mexican American. Up until I read this book, I thought that my journey through life was excruciating. After reading this book I now know that I am not alone in my negative feelings about childhood experiances.The book provided me with a narrative on what young people expect from parents and the inability of delivering on those expectations. In this case The American Dream took the adults away and kept the parents from nurturing the children left behind.We seldom think of those left behind and what they must go through, especially when they are children. The scars inflicted on them at such a young age will forever brand them.
This book was written with a deliberate outlook for the issues that are seldom talked about. The passion that Reyna Grande used to stroke this book with, made me not want to put it down. My hope is that people from countries other than Mexico will read it as well.I'm quite sure that she isn't alone in what she experianced.
The book was anything but boring. It was insightful and powerful.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

"The Distance Between" is the inspirational coming-of-age memoir that captures a girl's challenging journey to reach her dreams. Award-winning writer Reyna Grande candidly shares her childhood that is reflective of the difficult challenges of the modern Mexican immigrant experience. This extraordinary woman shares her life with frankness and along the way provides a voice for many immigrants. This heart-warming 338-page book is broken out into the following two parts: 1. Mi Mamá Me Ama, and The Man Behind The Glass.

1. A well-written, engaging, heartfelt coming-of-age memoir. Honest, personal storytelling.
2. A fascinating topic: the immigrant experience through the eyes of a Mexican girl.
3. The book has a very good flow. Grande is very descriptive and you never feel lost as a reader. It's her innate ability to tell a story and to adequately capture the emotions is what makes this reading experience very real.
4. A good story needs conflicts, challenges and this book is full of them. Some of the stories are gut wrenching and disturbing but ultimately heart-warming.
5. Touches on many topics of interest: poverty, immigration, politics, domestic abuse, alcoholism and education. These topics are not discussed as a separate issue but form part of the narrative. Grande asks big questions even as a little girl.
6. Thought-provoking. Some quotes will stick with you.
7. Family dynamics are very interesting. Growing up with very different grandmothers highlights how personalities impact a child. Parents leaving to "El Otro Lado" with the goal of providing for their families. Children desperately seeking role models and guidance.
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Format: Hardcover
What is there to say about a writer who pours her heart and soul into her writing. She dares to open her private past to the world and at the same time makes a definitive point about our broken immigration system. Read it for the memoir then think how this story is repeated year after year with children of immigrant families.
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Format: Paperback
I came across The Distance Between Us: A Memoir, by Reyna Grande, because I thought it might be a good choice for students in my community college classroom. I therefore sighed a little upon opening it, scanning its pages with a sense of duty and the weight of a teacher's analytical equipment.

Grande's deceptively simple book, however, broke through all that within in moments and began speaking directly to my heart. In fact, I spent its last forty in tears, followed by an afternoon of mourning and reflection, trying to integrate all her book allowed me to see.

I learned about the impact Grande's parents' decision to emmigrate had on the children they left behind in Mexico. It helped me see immigration as part of a larger economic pattern and better understand its effect on both Mexican and US culture.

In this book, Grande is rigorously honest, reflecting a child's eye view of the world in its early pages and a very courageous adult's more nuanced view of familial love and longing in the later. The Distance Between Us: A Memoir is about class, and the complexities of class, capturing what it feels like to be economically impoverished and the slender borders between poor and even poorer--an area rarely reflected on in American prose in this manner and from the point of view of someone who has lived it this directly.

Once you open The Distance Between Us: A Memoir, it's nearly impossible to put it down because Grande is very adept and harnessing narrative force.

Her short chapters generally focus on small images and details that unfold onto larger truths. The images and details multiply over the course of several chapters in a manner that at first feels like a kaleidoscope and then begins forming an ordered picture of an entire economic phenomenon, one that includes family violence, trauma, and abandonment as well as the power of education and the difficulties far too many have in accessing it.
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