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In her memoir The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grande reflects on her rough childhood and teenage years. Her story recounts those heart-breaking moments and her growth through the dark time in her life.
When she was four, Reyna’s mother left her and her siblings to go to the United States to join Reyna’s father, who was already there in search for a job and a house. Being a young child, she couldn’t fully understand what impact her mother’s departure had on her.
She and her siblings had to live with her grandmother, who assigned them daily chores in exchange for a meager amount of food. They did not have the freedom to play or to make friends as other kids. However, they helped each other and worked through the hard time, hoping that one day their mother would come back.
After a few years, there came a day when their wish came true—their mother returned home. Reyna and her siblings embraced their mother with open arms. Soon, they discovered that their mother wasn’t the loving, warm-hearted person they had known before. She had become irritable and money-hungry. This change of character and personality could be attributed to her unsuccessful experience in the U.S., a life with no job or decent residence. Worst of all, her mother found out Reyna’s father had fallen in love with another woman.
The story continued on with Reyna making the dangerous and illegal trek across the border between Mexico and the United States for a new life. Her father re-entered her life, but did he deserve her trust? How could Reyna push through rough circumstances?
The book gives first-hand glimpses of the tough life of many immigrants have to deal with and understand the gulf between dream and reality. It tells a true story about hope and perseverance. It is a fantastic read full of emotional details.
The Distance Between Us: Young Readers Edition by Reyna Grande, Aladdin, 336 pp.
Age Range: 10 and 14
Grade Level: 5-9