The Distance Between Us
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The Distance Between Us

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  534 ratings  ·  122 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Atria Books (first published August 1st 2012)
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Jeanette (Most of My Favorite Authors Are Dead)
3.5 stars

Emigration from Mexico to the U.S. divides a lot of families. This is one woman's account of what it felt like to spend her early childhood in Mexico while her parents were on El Otro Lado (The Other Side). Reyna Grande and her siblings were shuffled among relatives who were not in a position to care for them and were often resentful at being saddled with these children. In the absence of a real mother, Reyna's older sister Mago had to become "the little mother" for Reyna and Carlos.

Diane D.
What could be more scary or powerful to a child than a weeping woman who roams the canal and steals children away (in Mexico, known as "La Llorona")? The answer is a power that takes away parents, not children -- the United States ("El Otro Lado" -- the Other Side). Thus opens the prologue in this deeply personal, often heartbreaking, memoir of Reyna Grande and her siblings as they wait for their parents to keep their promise and return to Mexico for them.

The story is a journey of Reyna and her...more
This was a heartbreaking story of the toll of immigration on a family. Novelist Reyna Grande's memoir documents the steady disintegration of her family over decades as one by one members of her family leave and return, leave and return to "el Otro Lado," the United States.

The first separation takes place before the start of the book; Reyna is so young when her father leaves for the US that she knows him only by his photo, and thinks of him as "the man behind the glass." The second, though certa...more
Sally Wessely
As a former ESL teacher, I could not have enjoyed this book more. The story of Reyna Grande is one of hardship, heartbreak, and triumph. I was struck by the power of her writing on the very first page.

If one does not understand the internal and external conflict that children whose parents have left Mexico to find work or a better life in the United States, the reader of this memoir will certainly gain insight into this all too common problem when this book is read.

My students used to love to...more
Liz Waters
Award-winning novelist Reyna Grande's new memoir, "The Distance Between Us" is a book that has given me an eye-opening understanding of the plight of many immigrants from Mexico. Trapped in poverty in their native land, moving into the United States by any means is a way to better one's life and the lives of one's children. With the legal situation in the U.S., though, Mexican people who choose to move north must rely on "coyotes" to navigate the dangerous ground between nations in the dead of n...more
When I thought of illegal immigrants, I hadn't really considered what they had left behind. This book highlights those children left back home for years at a time as their parents journey, at great risk, to "El Otro Lado" to try to better life for themselves and their children. A young child, though, can't really understand why his parents have abandoned him. This is a heart-breaking book, not only in its piercing portrayal of how it feels to be that child left back home, but also in its depicti...more
Dundee Library
Reyna Grande recounts the turmoil and hardship she experienced as a child. The poverty she experienced in Mexico is unbelievably heartbreaking. Her parents had left the country in hopes of finding the American dream of jobs and wealth. Her paternal grandma, a vicious woman who cared little for the children's welfare, was left to raise her and her older siblings. When her father returns for the oldest child, he ends up taking all three children to America. Reyna was overjoyed until realizing that...more
Esther Bradley-detally
The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grand, Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. by Reyna Grande 325pp., $25

A review-Esther Bradley-DeTally

Reyna Grande’s The Distance Between Us (a memoir)rocks.

In January, 1980, a time of tremendous poverty and economic hardship in Mexico, Reyna is four years old, as her mother leaves for El Otro Lado, the Other Side, to join her husband to work, to help him fulfill his dreams of leaving something to his children. He had left his native country with h...more
I wonder whether the people I know who complain the loudest about illegal immigration would change their views after reading this memoir about the human side of what it involves. And I wonder whether the people who make such disparaging and often hateful remarks about illegal immigrants would feel the same after reading about the desperate courage that motivates people to face the dangers involved in crossing the border to escape the poverty of their lives and seek a decent life for their childr...more
Story Description:

Washington Square Press|March 12, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-4516-6178-1

Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in this “compelling…unvarnished, resonant” (Book Page) 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 thei...more
This is an enlightening memoir about the living conditions in parts of Mexico and the impetus those conditions contribute to Mexicans making the very dangerous, illegal journey across the border into America for the chance of a better life. Often times this means leaving their families behind in Mexico, resulting in a horrible effect on the children in the family. I truly felt for Reyna and her siblings as they had to endure so much in their young lives. Their parents went to America with so muc...more
I LOVED this book. I read this book on a recent trip and could not put it down when I should've been sight seeing. This memoir tells the story of the toll that immigration takes on Reyna Grande and her family. Her father initially goes to the United States in search of work when she is very young. A few years later her mother follows and leaves Reyna and her siblings behind in Mexico for several years. Eventually her mother returns after leaving her father, but is not much of a mother to Reyna o...more
Maggie Sievers
I read Across a Hundred Mountains with great interest. Reyna tells a story that is compelling from the get go and very timely. I live on the border and meet people who have crossed, typically after they have been deported at the Kino Border Initiative. They tell similar, almost identical, stories of extreme poverty, treacherous crossings to el otro lado, bigotry, and living in the shadows in los estados unidos.

I found Reyna's memoir at the Tucson Festival of Books and bought it along with Dancin...more
Jeff Chamberlain
Powerful! Though I read the story closely, I cannot fathom what Reyna experienced in her life growing up as a child in Mexico and entering the US illegally. And she was one of the lucky ones--it's hard to imagine how many people in the world live lives of grinding poverty and little or no hope. This book is an eye-opener. It also illustrates vividly how significant each one of us can be in the lives of others--one person made a key difference. I'm glad that the book has been chosen as the Commun...more
This honest, modest, and beautifully written memoir enlightens about what it's like to be an immigrant child and young adult. Reyna Grande writes about how poverty in Mexico and the quest for a better life in the US has dire consequences for families when parents are separated from children. However, there is much that is hopeful in Ms. Grande's story and her journey toward achieving her dream of going to college and a becoming a writer. I can't wait to share this book with students at my high s...more
Chris Kosal
I thoroughly enjoyed this poignant story of a little girl's struggles to grow up and fulfill her dreams despite challenges of grinding poverty and absent or abusive parents and relatives. What spirit Reyna, Carlos and Mago demonstrated throughout their childhood. I related to this book as a second generation Polish American whose grandparents only spoke Polish and were very poor, although not as destitute as Reyna's family in Mexico. I also have a big sister who watches over me even to this day...more
Erica Villagomez
I really enjoyed Grande's story and her experience about her journey to El Otro Lado. Her perspective as a child dealing with being left behind by her parents was very open and honest. She questioned their motives, not fulling understanding them. After each story being told Grande would give a present insight on the situation that took place. At first I really liked this. After a while it became too repetitious. It made Grande seem almost saint-like, as if she was blessed with doing nothing wron...more
Listened to this one for book club. It is also the 2014 Monroe County One Community, One Read title.

I think that listening to it made it easier to get lost in the story, as someone else was reading all of the Spanish portions that may have been difficult for me if I had been reading the print version.

I look forward to hearing the author speak when she visits next month. She has a fascinating personal history as an illegal Mexican immigrant (she came to the U.S. with her father when she was aroun...more
Feb 24, 2014 Laurie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laurie by: Brown Bag Book Club
Shelves: read-in-2013
This biography details an extraordinary journey from a childhood of poverty in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico to a writer with U.S. citizenship. Reyna Grande's father left Mexico in 1978 to find work in El Otro Lado. Her mother followed him in 1980 and left their three children with the father's mother. Reyna was the youngest at age four. Her older sister, Mago, at 8 1/2 became her "little mother" (and continued that role for the next dozen years). Carlos was 7.
Their father's mother was not a nice gra...more
William Lopez
A fantastic memoir about Reyna's life both north and south of the border. As both a researcher whose work focuses on various aspects of immigrant life, and a child of immigrants myself, this book was deeply fascinating, moving, entertaining, and engaging. So many of Reyna's stories reminded me of stories I had heard as a kid, and hear from families now. As researchers interested in immigration however, we rarely hear the stories of immigrants strung together, back to back to back. This book does...more
Julia Amante
Important book. As a former teacher, I had many student just like Reyna in my classroom. Well written. Takes you on a journey of what it's like to be the child of immigrant parents, and to spend most of your life without the nurturing parents are supposed to provide. Touching and heartbreaking.
Beth Gault
Every privileged American should read this, particularly self-centered teenagers, lazy adults and those who think illegal immigrants have no right to try to get to the U.S. for a better life. Grande has chosen the perfect anecdotes to make us squirm; stories of hunger, worms, floods etc.
Rowen Conrad
I really enjoyed this book. From the beginning Reyna Grande was able to capture and hold your attention due to the fact that the story she tells is so riveting. The Distance Between Us is a memoir which is different from your traditional biography and makes it much easier to read, and a lot more interesting. The story she tells is about three young Mexican children who were left behind to live with their cruel grandmother while their parents tried to make money in the United States. Throughout t...more
Amber Williams
Wow. What an amazing book this is. I am still trying to collect my thoughts so this review will be edited later. There were moments where I gasped, where I smiled. There were moments where I was angry; angry at Mami and Mago and Carlos, their extended family and even angry at Reyna. Angry at her for putting up with everything and for not standing up for herself. But that anger wouldn't exist if not for one thing: I cared for Reyna. I hated seeing her struggle and I was happy for her wh...more
Kathy Nattress

Oh, Auggie, I will miss you so...
I loved this book! So much that I have asked Reyna to come and speak at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes - in Los Angeles on Saturday Feb 1 from 2pm. The event is FREE
501 North Main Street
LA CA 90012

Placticas at LA Plaza!
February 1 2014 2:00PM

Conversations, Book Readings, and More!

Author Reyna Grande will discuss, The Distance Between Us, her memoire of her immigrant experience. Ms. Reyna Grande is an award-winning novelist and memoirist. She has received an American Book Aw...more
Susan Eubank
"I loved Abuelita's street. In the evening, the rays of the setting sun would paint the dirt road the color of baked clay. All the neighborhood kids came out to play. The train tracks provided lots of fun. We had contests to see who could jump over the most ties or who could balance herself the longest on the tracks. Sometimes we put pieces of scrap metal on the tracks and after the train swished by we would run to pick up our flattened shiny metal. Women would sit outside their homes on wicker...more
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...more
Patty Mccormick
I had never heard about this book or this writer, but I decided it looked interesting. This is a "rags to riches" tale of a young girl Reyna who is left in Mexico when her parents migrate to the U.S.. What was it like for Reyna to grow up without her parents? How did she survive the mental abuse and cruelness of her paternal grandmother? The book presents a look at what Reyna had to endure when she was left behind. Reyna tells us of the substandard living conditions of Mexico. They often didn't...more
I am sure that the process of writing this memoir was in many ways a healing process for the author as she certainly endured a tough childhood and adolescence, yet probably has achieved such success because of that rather than in spite of that. Whereas so many seem to be forever mired in the circumstances of their birth she always wanted more. Obviously in spite of the flagrant abuse and neglect from her parents she still maintained a great deal of love for them. Thank goodness for the positive...more
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Reyna Grande is the author of two novels, Across a Hundred Mountains, which received a 2007 American Book Award; Dancing with Butterflies, which received a 2010 International Latino Book Award. Her new book, a memoir titled The Distance Between Us, was published on August 28, 2012 by Simon & Schuster. In it, Reyna recounts her experiences as a child left behind in Mexico when her parents emigr...more
More about Reyna Grande...
Across a Hundred Mountains Dancing With Butterflies The Distance Between Us: A Memoir La distancia entre nosotros (Atria Espanol) A través de cien montañas (Across a Hundred Mountains): Novela (Spanish Edition)

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