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Across a Hundred Mountains: A Novel Paperback – May 15, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Grande, a 2003 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow, turns in a topical and heartbreaking border story for her debut. Juana, 11, loses her baby sister in a flood, and the death sets off a chain of tragic events: her money-strapped father heads north from their small Mexican town for el otro lado; Juana's newborn baby brother is claimed by the town money lender; and Juana's mother descends into alcoholism and violence. At 14, Juana leaves to look for her father, from whom they have heard nothing. On her painstaking journey, she meets Adelina Vasquez, an American runaway working as a prostitute in Tijuana, who takes Juana in. The narrative switches off between young Juana's viewpoint, and that of Andelina, now 31 and a Los Angeles social worker, who returns to Mexico to find her own father and reunite with her mother. Grande's deft portraiture endows even the smallest characters with grace, and the two stories cross and re-cross in unexpected ways, driving toward a powerful conclusion. (June)
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Review

"Across a Hundred Mountains is a beautifully rendered novel that maintains its power throughout....A breathtaking debut."

-- El Paso Times

"Elegantly written...a timely and riveting read."

-- People

"Grande's heartfelt [novel] addresses a worthy subject -- the desperation of illegal immigrants and the families they leave behind."

-- Entertainment Weekly

"Reyna Grande beguiles with the spare, unadorned prose of a fabulist, then stuns with emotional truths of shattering complexity....A tale full of memorable characters and even more memorable truths."

-- Javier Grillo-Marxuach, writer/producer of Lost and Boomtown

"Grande's deft portraiture endows even the smallest characters with grace."

-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (May 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743269586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743269582
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Olivas on June 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As the public discourse over undocumented immigration becomes more heated and, at times, outright ugly -- particularly in the blogosphere -- attacks on such immigrants are often made in broad strokes and with gross generalizations.

This should not be a surprise, because it is easier to denigrate and reject a group of people if you dehumanize them and make them faceless.

But that's where talented writers come in: With skillful prose, they can focus on a small group of undocumented immigrants and make their struggles and humanity real to the reader so that it becomes difficult to dismiss their plight with a bumper-sticker slogan or the waving of a flag.

Two years ago, Luis Alberto Urrea did exactly that with "The Devil's Highway" (Little, Brown), in which he brilliantly chronicled the plight of 26 Mexican men who, in 2001, crossed the border into an area of the Arizona desert known as the Devil's Highway. Only 12 made it safely across. The book received wide acclaim and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

Now comes a fictionalized story of undocumented immigration in Reyna Grande's debut novel, "Across a Hundred Mountains" (Atria Books, $23). Grande tells her story in evocative language that never falls into pathos.

In the nonlinear narrative, chapters alternate between her two female protagonists, Juana Garcia and Adelina Vasquez. First, we have Juana, a young girl who lives in a small Mexican village in extreme poverty. When a flood leads to yet another death in her family -- a death that Juana feels responsible for -- Juana's father believes that he must earn more money to house his family in safer quarters.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was selected for One Region, One Book in Southeastern Connecticut, where I used to live. That is how I became interested.
The novel has a cross-generational appeal and speaks to issues of our day. It effectively combines family history with the controversial subject of immigration reform. It is full of poignant drama, class and racial tensions and a heartwarming story of hope amidst despair. I would recommend it without reservation, both as a good read and an appeal to practice the golden rule!!
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The story is compelling and well told. The allegory is sometimes too obvious, yet the book speaks with a voice not heard often enough. The allure and promise of the US on an immigrant population that is exploited, ignored and vilified driven by poverty and lack of opportunity. These people of the Americas are the people who understand the true meaning of the American dream, and who suffer and die for what most Americans have long taken for granted.
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Format: Hardcover
This was an excellent book, full of unsparing detail and sharp images. The two stories coincide and cross in a surprisingly possible way, with haunting twists and turns. After just reading Enrique's Journey, the crossing to El Otro Lado in this book reiterated the inhumanity of the border situation for me. A riveting book. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a beautifully-written book, but the narrative alternates between two characters and one has a much more interesting story than the other. Also, there are some twists at the end that made the book confusing and frustrating. Read Grande's memoir: that one deserves ten stars.
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I met this authour at a recent conference, and bought the book. I read it in one day. It was one of those books you can't put down, but don't want to end. She has a unique style that is spare yet so vivid that you are transported into the story.

The story is so powerful that I cried and was rocked to my core.

I bought several copies to give to friends.

Ms. Grande is a gifted writer.

This book is a must read!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fast read. But prepare for it to catapult you in all directions before you approach the final (very satisfying) scene.

For those of you unfamiliar with the actual realities faced by Mexicans who look north for economic and personal freedom, this book truthfully and unromantically reflects a common narrative. It is a narrative I first heard from my own close friend, who crossed the border illegally at age 12 with her mother and younger siblings.

Grande provides us all with a realistic look at the lives of real people, but remembers to add the nonverbal, non-rational to her story in balanced but true measure. Carlos Castenada and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, bow to what the 21st century hath wrought! Reyna Grande.

I'm off to read Reyna Grande's next book, Dancing with Butterflies. I have a young college student, trying to make her way in the norteno world, stuck between her parents' ways and her American culture's, who dances folklorico like Nora dances the tarantella in A Doll's House. Perhaps this will be a good "recommend" for her.

Read Across a Hundred Mountains. Then share it with a friend.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This story is about Mexicans trying to get into the U.S., but from the point of view of Mexican people. It was interesting to see the two main characters coming closer together as the story unfolds. Story of families, loss, disappointments and strength and determination. I liked it
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