Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 369
Reyna, Carlos, and Mago are left behind when their parents move to Los Angeles and leave them in the care of a carousel of relatives in Mexico. They feel isolated and lonely because they don't believe their parents really want them.
"I won't be gone long."
"How long?" I wanted to know. I needed to know.
"Not too long," Mami replied, closing her suitcase. She was going to a place most parents never came back from, a place that had already taken my father, and was now taking my mother.
Her father goes to America first and is there for two years before he has his wife join him. Eventually, her father says, "I am not coming back here kids." He needs to let them know that he doesn't intend to return to Mexico from the United States. He believes that he can have a better life in the U.S. because there is more opportunity for him. He and their mother actually have another child who is born in the United States. That makes Reyna and her family feel even more separate.
The family that the children stay with don't treat them very well. Reyna's cousin, Elida, for example, is cruel to them.
I thought that since we were all in the same situation -- having been left behind by our parents -- we would be friends. Elida wasn't interested in being our friend. Like the neighbors, she called us the little orphans, even though her mother had left her too. The pretty dresses Abuela Evila made for her on her sewing machine, and the many gifts her mother sent her from El Otro Lado, helped Elida transform herself from the little orphan to a privileged granddaugther. She was everything we were not.
It takes a long time for Reyna to be able to have pride in who she is. She says that, "I didn't stop hating my name until many years later, when I realized that it wasn't a name to be ashamed of, but one to live up to." She overcomes the divided loyalties she feels between her family and between the countries that she has lived in to feel good about herself and her family.
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