Distance Between Us : A Memoir
by Grande, Reyna






The American Book Award-winning author of Across a Hundred Mountains traces her experiences as an illegal child immigrant, describing how her parents' dreams of better opportunities for their family were marked by her father's violent alcoholism, her efforts to obtain a higher education and the inspiration of Latina authors. 30,000 first printing.





Reyna Grande is the author of two award-winning novels. Across a Hundred Mountains received an American Book Award, and Dancing with Butterflies was the recipient of an International Latino Book Award. Reyna lives in Los Angeles.





Grande revisits the themes of her acclaimed novels (Across a Hundred Mountains, 2006; Dancing with Butterflies, 2009) to tell the story of her life in this touching and enormously personal memoir. Raised in a small Mexican village after her parents journeyed illegally to the U.S. in search of work, Grande and her siblings were alternately raised by their abusive paternal grandparents and their poverty-stricken maternal grandmother. Filled with stories of hunger and sorrow, Grande's recollections focus on the tension of the Mexican-American border through the eyes of those left behind, bringing a whole new definition to what it means to grow up in a "broken home." The poignant yet triumphant tale she tells of her childhood and eventual illegal immigration puts a face on issues that stir vehement debate. Grande is affecting and sincere, but her use of dialogue in the chronicling of some of her very early memories can be disconcerting in terms of veracity. Still, the powerful emotions and important story will carry readers along. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.





In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family's cycle of separation and reunification. Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family's only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents' love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator's hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define-in the U.S., her name's literal translation, "big queen," led to ridicule from other children-and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence "my mamá loves me" (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to "rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?" A standout immigrant coming-of-age story. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.





Prologue

Reyna, at age two

MY FATHER'S MOTHER, Abuela Evila, liked to scare us with stories of La Llorona, the weeping woman who roams the canal and steals children away. She would say that if we didn't behave, La Llorona would take us far away where we would never see our parents again.

My other grandmother, Abuelita Chinta, would tell us not to be afraid of La Llorona; that if we prayed, God, La Virgen, and the saints would protect us from her.

Neither of my grandmothers told us that there is something more powerful than La Llorona-a power that takes away parents, not children.

It is called The United States.

In 1980, when I was four years old, I didn't know yet where the United States was or why everyone in my hometown of Iguala, Guerrero, referred to it as El Otro Lado, the Other Side.

What I knew back then was that El Otro Lado had already taken my father away.

What I knew was that prayers didn't work, because if they did, El Otro Lado wouldn't be taking my mother away, too.

Prologue

Reyna, at age two

MY FATHER'S MOTHER, Abuela Evila, liked to scare us with stories of La Llorona, the weeping woman who roams the canal and steals children away. She would say that if we didn't behave, La Llorona would take us far away where we would never see our parents again.

My other grandmother, Abuelita Chinta, would tell us not to be afraid of La Llorona; that if we prayed, God, La Virgen, and the saints would protect us from her.

Neither of my grandmothers told us that there is something more powerful than La Llorona-a power that takes away parents, not children.

It is called The United States.

In 1980, when I was four years old, I didn't know yet where the United States was or why everyone in my hometown of Iguala, Guerrero, referred to it as El Otro Lado, the Other Side.

What I knew back then was that El Otro Lado had already taken my father away.

What I knew was that prayers didn't work, because if they did, El Otro Lado wouldn't be taking my mother away, too.






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