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The Distance Between Us

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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  990 ratings  ·  209 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. She said, "It doesn't matter that there's a dista
...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Atria Books (first published August 1st 2012)
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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezThe House of the Spirits by Isabel AllendeLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Latina/Latino Fiction
184th out of 433 books — 722 voters
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven GallowayThe Distance Between Us by Reyna GrandeKing Peggy by Eleanor HermanThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieOutcasts United by Warren St. John
One Maryland, One Book
2nd out of 7 books — 1 voter


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,518)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
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.

I'
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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
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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
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Erin
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
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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
Book Concierge
When she was just a baby Reyna Grande’s father left their small town of Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico for El Otro Lado – the Other Side – i.e. the United States. Economic recession made it impossible for him to provide for his family in Mexico, but the money he could earn in California would help support them. When she was only four, her mother left Reyna and her two older siblings in the care of their paternal grandmother, so that she could join her husband in California; with both of them working t ...more
Caren
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
Trisha
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
Stacey
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
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.
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
Kimberly
I was hesitant to read this book since I've spent so much time reading and learning about the plight of Latino immigrants and I already felt such empathy for them. I felt like I might be bored with the same details but also depressed at how powerless I am to really help anyone in that situation. I was pleasantly surprised at what a fresh look this was on the lives of immigrant children. I hadn't realized what so many children went through being separated from their families when some family memb ...more
Merry
Told through the eyes of a young Mexican girl (the author), The Distance Between Us is about a family's struggle as they together and individually try to better their lives by coming to the United States. It is a story of contradictions: hope and despair, kindness and cruelty, loyalty and desertion. It is also a story that could be told a hundred, a thousand, a million times over -- unfortunately. It gives the reader an appreciation for the many facets of modern Mexican immigration (particularly ...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
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Louise
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
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Arcelia
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
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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
Klara
Fantastic choice for the One Maryland One Book program for 2014, especially with illegal immigration currently in the media spotlight. Reyna Grande's memoir gives a heartfelt view of how immigrating into the United States can provide great opportunity, but can also distance families physically and emotionally. I found myself captivated with the narrative from start to finish. I am still in awe of how she was able to accomplish so much while facing such adversity.
Mary
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
Mary Anne
An interesting description of the author's experiences as the child of parents crossing the border from Mexico into the US as undocumented immigrants, and then as a young person living as an undocumented immigrant herself.

I feel like I need to read more broadly in this area for context. The author wishes the readers to understand that the tragedy and disruption and abuse and neglect that she and her siblings experienced were a result of her parents' choices to leave the children behind to go to
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Book
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
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Mike
This memoir is now my 2nd favorite book of all time, and somewhat changes my view on immigration. Grande writes in a very simple style, appropriate for the age she was at the time she describes. One of the reviewers on Amazon likened it to “Angela’s Ashes” for Mexican immigrants to the U.S. It's a very touching, moving story. It's written very effectively from the viewpoint of a tiny girl, I think she was 3 or 4 at the beginning, ending when she graduates from UC (only one in her family to do so ...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
Mallory
I gave it three stars, but that doesn’t mean I liked this book. What to say except this is a really depressing, horribly sad tale. I think part of me wanted to stop reading it just because I didn’t want to acknowledge the reality of this story and that there are probably many other fractured families in America who can relate to the Grandes. I hated Reyna’s parents. Their actions before and after crossing the border left me feeling little sympathy and very doubtful over how much they truly “care ...more
Sally
This is a memoir. It is very relavant at this time. It tells the story about illegally immagrating ti the USA and trying to make a better life for themselves. I touches on topics like going to school at not being able to understand or speak English; the poverty of Mexico; most illegal adults leave children back in Mexico and often has children here. Those USA born children are not illegal. Yesterday they had an actress on TV who was in that position. At age 14 she came home from school to find t ...more
Jennifer
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
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Amy
This is a lovely memoir about a five year old girl and her two siblings living in Mexico. Her parents make the dangerous trip to America in search of a better life and leave the children behind to live with their grandmother. They live in a small shack without running water or plumbing and dream of joining their parents in America someday. When Reyna is eleven, she and her siblings move to Los Angeles to live with their father who is now divorced and remarried. They speak no English, and going t ...more
Maria Romero
A must read!
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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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