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Reyna Grande’s The Distance Between Us will benefit young Latinos

This is an essay about the book “The Distance between us” by Reyna Grande.

Reyna Grande’s The Distance Between Us will benefit young Latinos

Essay prompt 1
The memoir by Reyna Grande is basically the story about illegal immigration.
Nonetheless, Grande also narrates other stories and illustrates the way they are all
interconnected. It is particularly beneficial for young Latinos since it narrates how poverty forces
young Latinos from school and into the ranch. It narrates how mothers abandon their young
children and fathers who use alcohol until they end up being violent. In addition, the book
narrates how young Latinos transcend their abuse, neglect as well as poverty to live out their
dreams in El Otro Lado, or The United States.

Latinos who immigrate to the United States with promises to return back to their country
with enough money sometimes find life in the United States very hard which makes them unable
to fulfill the promises made. Grande states that the Other Side or El Otro Lado, which is the
United States, took away her father when she was just 2 years old. It was in 1980 when recession
in Mexico was the worst ever in 5 decades (Grande 6). Grande’s father had left her and her two
siblings Carlos and Mago, along with their mother behind in Iguala, Guerrero, a village in
Mexico, and dangerously trekked across the border to El Otro Lado. Grande’s father promised to
come back soon from El Otro Lado with sufficient money to construct them a dream home
wherein they can all live together. Their promises made by their father become harder to believe
given that months turn into years. Their father had abandoned them in poverty in Iguala.
He later sends for his wife to join him and Reyna, Mago and Carlos are taken to the
household of their grandmother Abuelita Chinta. Grande says “similar to most immigrants, my
father had left his native country with high hopes of what life in America would be like” (Grande
7). She adds that “as soon as reality set in and realized that money was not as easy to make as the
stories told by people made it seem, he had to make a choice between sending for his wife or
going back to his native country with his head held low” (Grande 7). Grande’s father chose to
summon his wife with the expectation that both of them would be able to earn the money
required for building the house he had been dreaming of and come back to Mexico with delight.
With both their parents gone to El Otro Lado and remaining alone and abandoned, Reyna,
Mago and Carlos live with their grandmother who is strict and at times cruel. Reyna narrates
dwelling in cardboard homes which flooded during the monsoon rains and scorpions creeping on
the walls. Even so, what is more agonizing and distressing is her longing for her mother and
father. In child-like, straightforward language, Grande writes: “I felt as if I had some type of

scorpion within me that stung my heart repeatedly.” The poverty in the poor Mexican village of
Iguala is unyielding and Grande, Mago and Carlos long for affection and love which their
grandparents cannot give them. This depicts how young Latinos feel after their mother and/or
father has left them for a better life in El Otro Lado.
In the end, their father returns from American and takes them away to El Otro Lado
through illegal means and start a new life in this country with their father. They suppose that
finally, their troubles are ended. To the young eyes of Reyna, Los Angeles is a magical and
eccentric place with unbelievably speedy traffic. Nonetheless, the young Latinos – the Grande
siblings – still face difficulties in El Otro Lado. They face discrimination not just from their
classmates, but also from their educators. The children struggle to learn the English language and
are worried about being deported back to Mexico. Moreover, at home, their father has another
woman and Reyna, Carlo, and Mago really miss their mother who has since returned to Mexico.
He drinks and sometimes becomes enraged and beats the Grande children frequently
using his fists and belt. In essence, the pain of Mexican memories serves to feed their father’s
California dreams, as well as his drinking. In California, he works as a maintenance worker and
pushes Mago, Carlos, and Reyna to never miss even a single day of school. When the children
defy him, he threatens and disgraces them. He says: “I brought you to America so that you can
get education and exploit the opportunities that America has to offer” (Grande 166). Their father
added “the moment you walk through the door without As, I am taking you back to my mother’s
house” (Grande 166).
As the book ends, Reyna Grande attempts to understand her father. She attempts to
comprehend the abuse as well as poverty which he experienced in his childhood and the way it

shaped him, and she forgives him. Eventually, her father is the person who really drives her into
a better life. Her father tells Grande: “Just because we are illegal here does not imply that we
cannot dream,” (Grande 231) and Grande sticks to that. Reyna goes to college and moves in with
a college professor so that she can get protection. She is introduced by this professor to Chicano
authors and she is not alone anymore.
This story by Reyna Grande is actually not unique. She states that 80% of children who
are Latin American have been separated from their mother or father at some point during
migration to America. The story gives emphasis to the several struggles faced by these young
Latinos. As she depicts her journey through immigration, Grande speaks for young Latinos that
grow up torn between 2 different countries; the United States and a Latin American country such
as Mexico. Grande also speaks for young Latinos who grow up struggling with poverty, young
Latinos who grow up neglected or abused by a parent or grand parent, and young Latinos who
one way or another muster the strength to help them in rising out of all that.


In conclusion, after having read Reyna Grande’s Memoir, The Distance Between Us, I
feel that the group who might benefit from reading it are young Latinos. This book will benefit
young Latinos since they may be able to relate to Reyna Grande’s story, and how Reyna and her
Siblings struggled with abandonment and poverty in Mexico with a parent in America. It also
illustrates how Latino children who have illegally immigrated to America struggle to learn
English as a second language. The memoir also depicts the discrimination faced by young
Latinos in school from their teachers and fellow students. As such, this book matters a lot.


Work Cited
Grande, Reyna. The Distance Between Us, 2013. Print.

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