Reyna Grande drew a lot of attention for her 2012 memoir, The Distance Between Us—the next selection to be taken up by Alta’s California Book Club, on November 19. The inspiring book about her immigration to the United States, as a child, was a bestseller. It amassed rave reviews and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. But it wasn’t her first book. And she’s written others since.
Before publishing The Distance Between Us, Grande wrote two novels: Across a Hundred Mountains and Dancing with Butterflies. Released in 2006, Across a Hundred Mountains tells a story that mirrors Grande’s. In it, a girl, Juana, leaves her hometown in Mexico to pursue her father in the United States; he left earlier to find work to support his family back home. Along the way, she forms a bond with Adelina, who is on a quest of her own. People magazine called the novel “elegantly written” and “a timely and riveting read,” and it won the American Book Award. Dancing with Butterflies, which came out in 2009, centers on four women from different walks of life who become friends as members of a folklórico dance company in Los Angeles. In its review, Kirkus praised the novel’s “unflinching depiction of the immigration debacle’s personal toll.”
In 2018, Grande returned to her roots, publishing A Dream Called Home, a sequel to The Distance Between Us. The book chronicles her path to forging a writing life—after she becomes the first person in her family to go to college, at UC Santa Cruz. Among those who hailed the book are Viet Thanh Nguyen, Luis Alberto Urrea, and Sandra Cisneros. “Here is a life story so unbelievable, it could only be true,” Cisneros said.
The Distance Between Us tells a young girl’s story, so it makes sense that a young readers’ edition of the memoir was released in 2016. And, fittingly, a Spanish-language edition—La Distancia Entre Nosotros—came out in 2017. One can only imagine how much a girl like Grande could have benefited from reading such a story when she was growing up.
You can read an excerpt of The Distance Between Us here.
To join Alta’s California Book Club for free, you can register here.