This author appeared at the 2012 festival. Please view the list of authors appearing at this year's festival or see our suggestions for similar authors below.
Immigration is never a straightforward story, especially when the immigration is illegal. In The Distance Between Us: A Memoir, Reyna Grande recounts her hard childhood in Mexico and her hopes of a better life in "El Otro Lado." Being left behind for "El Otro Lado" first by her father and then by her mother, Grande was raised alongside her two older siblings by her Abuela Evila, her fraternal grandmother. "'I can be sure that my daughter's children are really my grandchildren, but one can't trust daughters-in-law," Abuela Evila often said to Grande and her siblings. "Who knows what your mother was doing when no one was looking?" Life with Abuela Evila wasn't what happy childhood memories are made of; eight-year-old Mago, seven-year-old Carlos, and four-year-old Reyna often had to go without the fundamental necessities such as food, water, and basic hygiene. The money her parents were sending for their upbringing was being pocketed by the one who was supposed to take care of them. Never had Reyna felt so desolate and alone. One day Mago traced a line between two dots on a map; one dot was Iguala and the other was Los Angeles: "This is the distance between us and our parents," she said. At the age of nine, Reyna found herself closing that distance and entering - illegally but finally - "El Otro Lado" with the father she had not seen since the age of two. Her aspirations where soon deflated when the realism of her father's alcoholism hit her. She found solace in the Latina voices she read. Grande writes to tell her own story in The Distance Between Us, but the beauty of her book is that her struggle is reflected in the hands of the reader. She is the first in her family to graduate from college and also received her M.F.A in creative writing. Grande's previous works have been award-winning novels: Across a Hundred Mountains and Dancing with Butterflies. She now resides in Los Angeles.