The Distance Between Us
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The Distance Between Us

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  755 ratings  ·  166 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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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
410th out of 424 books — 698 voters
Illegal by Jose Angel NThe Distance Between Us by Reyna GrandeThere's No Jose Here by Gabriel ThompsonCrossing Over by Rubén Martínez
Immigrant Stories (non fiction)
2nd out of 4 books — 1 voter

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Community Reviews

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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.

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Christina Borgoyn
"From undocumented immigrant to award-winning writer," Reyna Grande's memoir, The Distance Between Us , reveals one girl's assimilation into American 1980s society. The novel is decorated with the author's own photos of her life from a young child to the woman she has become today. From the depths of Mexican poverty and heartbreaking ruin to an abusive future filled with hope, Grande managed to tug at my heartstrings along the way. The story is divided into two books. We are first introduced to...more
If you need a book that will remind you to stop whining about your life, this might be it. This memoir written by Reyna Grande chronicles her life as a young "left-behind" girl with her two siblings in Mexico with a paternal grandmother who could qualify for the "wicked witch of the South" while her parents are illegally in American to make it rich. Reyna has her own run across the border, receives her green card, somehow manages to survive her teenaged years with a brutal drinking father and th...more
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
This year's One Maryland One Book selection, this book was well written and compelling but depressing as well. Reyna and her siblings have many bad memories from their childhood: a mother who abandoned them frequently, a grandmother that neglected them, (in fairness another grandmother with whom they lived with but in abject poverty), a father that does bring him across the border from Mexico to L.A. but drinks to excess and beats them, etc.

For these times of heated illegal immigration discussi...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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