The Distance Between Us: A Memoir

Reyna Grande (Dancing with Butterflies) offers readers a glimpse into the lives of an extremely poor Mexican family in her nostalgic and brutally honest memoir, The Distance Between Us. Hoping for a better life for himself and eventually his children, Grande's father leaves two-year-old Reyna and her older siblings in Mexico to cross illegally to El Otro Lado--"the other side," the United States. A few years later, Reyna's mother also leaves, forcing the children to move in with their grandmother. Sleeping three to a bed, eating meals of beans and stolen fruit, wearing handed-down clothes and hauling buckets of water for infrequent baths are just some of the trials Reyna endures as she waits bleakly for her Mami and Papi to return. The emotional ordeal is even more severe, as Reyna endlessly questions whether her parents left her because they loved her too much or because they didn't love her enough.

After years of separation, however, Papi returns for Reyna and the others, risking their lives to take them illegally into the U.S., where life is better for the Grande family--but just barely. Grande's memoirs pulls readers into this dysfunctional family by sharing intimate details of their life on both sides of the border and in doing so makes it easier for us to understand why so many Mexicans continue to cross into the U.S. illegally to provide food, housing and education for their children. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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