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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 242

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande is the story of the author's childhood in Mexico in the 1980s. Grande and her siblings were raised in desperately poor circumstances by their mean and bitter grandmother after both their mother and father went to the United States to seek work. We meet the character of Grandmother Evila early in the story, and we learn that the children are not only afraid of her because of her cruelty but also due to the terrible living conditions (including a scorpion infestation).

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Even in his absence, Grande's father, Natalio, looms large. Grande was so young when her father left Mexico that she does not remember him when he comes back to take the children to Los Angeles. Once there, Grande discovers that her father is a deeply flawed man who drinks too much and can be both physically and verbally abusive. Reyna spends her entire childhood and beyond trying to understand her father's capriciousness. We also meet Natalio's girlfriend, who is less than enthused to have three children now living with her.

We learn more about Grande's mother and realize that she is not a person in whom the young siblings may place any real faith. Mago, Reyna's older sister, seems to be the one person on whom Reyna can wholly depend; Mago serves as kind of a proxy mother to Reyna. Later in the memoir, the two sisters try to unravel their complicated family history.

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