The Distance Between Us is a memoir written by Reyna Grande. Reyna tells the story of her life and the struggles she faced growing up in the 70s and 80s. Reyna for the majority of her childhood lived in a little village in Mexico with her mother and two siblings. Her father had left for the United States when she was about 4 years old and had never returned. While living in Mexico, she lived an extreme poverty having to share her food with her entire family. As she got older, her father returned and took her and her sister to the United States. Grande’s life in the U.S was no more different than it was in Mexico except no she faced discrimination for being Mexican and undocumented.
The most interesting theme of the memoir was how Grande tried to find her identity growing up. As a kid she was proud to be Mexican and even bragged about how her dad lived up north which resulted her getting into fights. At first she had everything a kid could want since her dad would send money but after a while it stopped and it caused her to be more confused. Her mother would send her to work at a families friend house and she for the first time saw an American, which prompted her to wanting to live with her father in the U.S. Once Reyna arrived in the U.S everything she had been taught about her culture had to be forgotten. Since she had arrived undocumented, she couldn’t tell anybody she was coming from Mexico. Her fathered forced her to on speak English which caused Reyna to forget Spanish at a very young age. She ended up bleaching her hair off and skim as she was trying to fit in with everyone at school. Reyna grew up with her half sister who was an American citizen. Her father didn’t force her sister to speak English and was encourage to continue her Mexican traditions. It showed how Reyna’s status forced her to Americanized in order to be protected while her sister was free to be who she wanted.
The memoir did depicted the concept of the “one and the other” as seen in our course. Reyna was seen the as the “other” due to her immigration status and was therefore forced to submit to her fathers commands in order to not be deported. Reyna was given the mentality that expressing herself would lead to tragedy and was therefore forced to become a perfect American. Reyna’s sister Izzy, was seen as a carefree child. Her parents didn’t care about her identity as much because they knew she was protected. She was able to party, get a job and talk to the neighbors. In this situation she’s seen as the “one” because of their status in the U.S. The memoir showed how a lot of immigrants try and become the ideal American and in the process loose their connection and identity to their culture.