The Distance Between Us: Young Reader Edition

Reyna GrandeThe Distance Between Us

“When my father beat me and insulted me when he was drunk, I’d hold on to the dreams he had given me. I would think about those dreams when the blows came, because the father who beat me, the one who preferred to stay home and drink rather than attend my band concerts or parent-teacher conferences, wasn’t the same father who would tell me that one day I’d be somebody in this country. That much I knew.”

I had assumed being an immigrant in America was difficult, but I never fully understood the struggles one goes through to not only cross a border but thrive in our country. Grande paints a beautiful story with swirls of pain and hope that one can’t help but fall in love with. Through a series of bad breaks, sketchy border crossings, and the struggle to gain citizenship you hope Reyna can break free from the cycle of sadness that is her life. The Distance Between Us is just a glimpse into the hardships of chasing the American dream. I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the immigrant experience or Hispanic literature but keep in mind this memoir comes with big emotions. 

Renya’s parents abounded her and her siblings with her grandmother, who kept them alive. More or less they were treated as orphans by her and the community. Their mother was in and out of their lives when it was convenient for her. She acted in her own self-interest, and I can’t find sympathy for her actions or feelings. Renya’s father is a mess. He comes to back into the children’s lives almost as a hero, I wanted him to be the hero, but Reyna’s father suffers from his own demons which could be a story of its own. He abuses the children and is an alcoholic. Through all his wrongdoings I couldn’t help but feel pity for him. He truly wanted better for his children and in his own way took risks to make sure they had a chance to better themselves.

TBH I did not like this read. Grande’s story is one of sadness. I had a hard time reading about the abuse and other unfortunate events in her life. Renya endures the physical and emotional abuse from her upbringing. She holds on to a love for her family that I could not see myself doing, for that I admire her. In the end, she is able to break away from poverty, but the reader is left with the feeling she carries the weight of her past. All in all, the story is powerful just depressing.


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