When Reyna Grande was nine-years-old, she walked across the US–Mexico border in search of a home, desperate to be reunited with the parents who had left her behind years before for a better life in the City of Angels. What she found instead was an indifferent mother, an abusive, alcoholic father, and a school system that belittled her heritage.
With so few resources at her disposal, Reyna finds refuge in words, and it is her love of reading and writing that propels her to rise above until she achieves the impossible and is accepted to the University of California, Santa Cruz. Although her acceptance is a triumph, the actual experience of American college life is intimidating and unfamiliar for someone like Reyna, who is now once again estranged from her family and support system. Again, she finds solace in words, holding fast to her vision of becoming a writer, only to discover she knows nothing about what it takes to make a career out of a dream.
Through it all, Reyna is determined to make the impossible possible, going from undocumented immigrant of little means to “a fierce, smart, shimmering light of a writer” (Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild); a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist “speak[ing] for millions of immigrants whose voices have gone unheard” (Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street); and a proud mother of two beautiful children who will never have to know the pain of poverty and neglect.
Reyna Grande is the recipient of the 2015 Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. Her first novel, Across a Hundred Mountains (Atria, 2006), received a 2006 El Premio Aztlan Literary Award, a 2007 American Book Award, and a 2010 Latino Books Into Movies Award. Her second novel, Dancing with Butterflies (Washington Square Press, 2009) was critically acclaimed and was the recipient of a 2010 International Latino Book Award, Best Women’s Issues, and a 2010 Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club Selection. The Distance Between Us was a 2012 National Book Critics Circle Awards Finalist and has been selected by numerous city-wide read programs, including One Maryland/One Book in 2014.
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