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The Distance Between Us

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,473 Ratings  ·  269 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 dist
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
Latino/Latina Fiction
206th out of 537 books — 805 voters
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven GallowayThe Distance Between Us by Reyna GrandeKing Peggy by Peggielene BartelsThe 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 3,000)
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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.

Jan 24, 2016 Myrna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
A moving, insightful, and interesting memoir about the author growing up in poverty in Mexico, separation from her parents, and coming to the USA illegally at age 10. Reyna becomes successful in spite of the many odds she faces. An inspirational novel of achieving the American Dream through sacrifice and work. Definitely recommend this book as it describe the experiences and feelings migrant families go through.
Sally Wessely
Jan 02, 2013 Sally Wessely rated it it was amazing
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
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
Aug 17, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it
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
Sep 18, 2015 Bookworm❤ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely loved this book, I seriously read it in one sitting. It was amazing and recommend it to everyone :)
Liz Waters
Aug 19, 2012 Liz Waters rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 27, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was well written, funny, poignant and a little sad. And plus, it is nonfiction. It was about a girl left behind with her siblings while her parents tried to make a better living in the U.S. The money the parents sent home so the grandmother could take care of them, was spent not on them, but on the favored grandchild, also living with the grandparents. This was a great coming of age story of a little Mexican girl who finally made it to America, only to find out ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Sep 27, 2015 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
The Distance Between Us is a memoir by writer Reyna Grande. Grande tells the story of her childhood in Mexico, as her father illegally enters the US for work; as her mother follows him after years in which he does not return; as Grande's grandmother reluctantly raises Grande and her siblings; as her mother learns her father has a girlfriend in the US and bitterly returns to Mexico; as Grande's mother leaves with a new boyfriend and again abandons the children; as Grande's other, poorer grandmoth ...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
Mar 03, 2014 Caren rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
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
Jul 11, 2013 Stacey rated it liked it
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
Oct 29, 2012 Julia Amante rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 02, 2014 Kimberly rated it really liked it
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
Feb 27, 2015 Jasmine_oxxo rated it it was amazing
Reyna Grande book: The distance between us takes place in Iguala,Mexico and its about a family with three children. Who father immigrated to the united states(El otro lado) seeking for work. Through the story is gives advice and explanation to why her parents choice to leave them as children and headed to the United states. Reyna personality shows strength and compassion throughout book.

Reyna Grande quotes that “She saw a roach pass by her foot, and she instantly lifted it up and brought it down
Feb 27, 2015 Noodles rated it it was amazing
In the memoir ,with The distance between us, written by Reyna Grande that was born in Iguala Mexico with her two other siblings named Mago and Carlos. Her father left to “el otro lado” (the other side) to work and finish his dream house in Mexico. Later her dad decide to take her mother away so she can help him build the house, leaving Reyna and her two siblings behind with their mean grandmother Evila that made them have the worst childhood ever. She would scare them and hit them when they didn ...more
Jan 23, 2015 Merry rated it liked it
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
Aug 30, 2012 Esther Bradley-detally rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 29, 2012 Trisha rated it really liked it
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
Mar 29, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
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
Jan 07, 2013 Arcelia rated it it was amazing
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
Catherine Theriault
Grande's story is grit and courage writ large. It's a familiar one since so many aspects of her story surface in our students' accounts of coming to the U.S. She captures the tension of being torn between family loyalty and the desire to success in school. A must-read for teachers.

A sad side note: Grande's home town of Iguala is the site of the 2014 massacre of 43 Mexican students from a rural teachers' college.
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
Feb 20, 2015 Piyali rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An absolutely beautiful book which transfers the readers to live the lives of three little children abandoned by their parents in Mexico while the parents set out to seek a better life for all of them in El Otro Lado. We follow Reyna as she lives her life in squalor in her abuelita's house and then crosses the border with her siblings and papi to live the American dream.
Jun 23, 2015 Lois rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most compelling and enjoyable memoirs I've ever read. It is required reading this summer for Juniors, so I had to read it, and I'll admit that I was not really thrilled about it, because I don't typically like memoirs. However, I could not put it down. The writing is poetic and poignant, a literary memoir.
William Lopez
Apr 03, 2014 William Lopez rated it it was amazing
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
Jeff Chamberlain
Jul 06, 2013 Jeff Chamberlain rated it it was amazing
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
Pam Lemke
Jan 15, 2016 Pam Lemke rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, heartbreaking, very well written memoir about immigration to "El Otro Lado" and all the loss and hope that comes with that journey. This is a story that needs to be told, and that Americans should read. Thank you Reyna Grande for sharing of yourself so generously!
Dec 23, 2015 Brittney rated it it was amazing
This book was so hard to read, but also hard to put down because it was so beautifully written. It was a heartbreaking memoir highlighting children of immigrants who are left in their home country while their parents make new lives in the US. This is a must-read for teachers of ELL and immigrant students.
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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
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