Have you ever gone into reading a book with low expectations and then by the time you finished reading the last line, you were in love? Well I have several times, but the most recent has been with Reyna Grande’s memoir The Distance Between Us. Reyna’s tale is one of abandonment, abuse, and perseverance. It begins in Mexico where Reyna is living with her mother, older sister, and older brother. Her father is in the United States trying to earn money to build his dream home and move his family out of poverty. Reyna has never met him. Eventually Reyna’s mother leaves as well to help her husband. The book follows Reyna’s time as a pseudo-orphan in Mexico. Eventually Reyna makes her way to the United States as well, but much happens between and much happens after that journey. I won’t say too much, because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who is interested in picking it up.
I found this memoir to be emotionally moving. Even though my story is very different from Reyna’s, there were still many moments where I identified with her. Even though on the surface her history appears to be distinct and unique (which it is, everyone’s story is unique), it taps into more universal emotions and internal conflicts.
I’m pretty bummed because I actually had a chance to hear Reyna Grande speak at my campus earlier this semester, but I was out of town that weekend. C’est la vie.
I do highly recommend this book. Even if it’s something you wouldn’t normally pick up, do so. I’m really learning this semester how important it is to broaden your book horizons. So many of the books I’ve read for my postcolonial literature class have been ones I never would have picked up, but I have enjoyed so many of them.