Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 278
The Distance Between Us is a memoir by critically-acclaimed novelist Reyna Grande. In the book, Grande recounts how her father left to go to the United States—which he referred to as "El Otro Lado" (The Other Side)—when she and her siblings were very young. As her father's absence became longer, she began to feel resentment towards him and eventually estrangement.
When Grande's mother left to join their father in the United States, Grande was left to be cared for by her strict grandmother. When it was finally time for Grande and her siblings to join their parents in "the other side," she began to feel as if she was literally and figuratively leaving one dimension for another.
The Distance Between Us is not exclusively about the experiences of immigrating to the United States, specifically from the perspective of a young child, but is also about "immigrating" to a new life and into a new relationship with an estranged parent.
El Otro Lado not only refers to the United States, but also the other side of what would become half of Grande's dual-culture as a Mexican-American. In the memoir, Grande recalls when someone pointed out where her umbilical cord was buried. Her mother explained that it was buried in the soil of her birthplace so that Grande would never forget where she came from, and to symbolize that Grande will always be attached at the belly to her mother, regardless of the distance between them.
In this sense, Grande's memoir poetically examines the dynamics between geography, culture and personal experiences; illustrating that geographical and political borders are similar to the boundaries that divide the heart and mind.
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