Most helpful positive review
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Through the Eyes of a Child...
on September 12, 2012
"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. Sandra Cisneros and Laura Esquivel charmingly took us on whimsical journeys through the lives of immigrants...Reyna takes us on an unflinchingly, painful ride through her days of always striving to come to terms with what she saw as the distance between herself and one beloved family member or another as they worked so hard to assimilate and make their dreams of getting ahead in life come true. Her words are not elaborate, her narrative, matter of fact...but trust me, you will feel what the experience of being an immigrant struggling to make the transition to becoming American, really is. In the pervasive culture of these times that can be so cruel and judgemental, Reyna's story should perhaps be mandatory reading for everyone...