Reyna Grande is coming to Yuma Main Library, exclusive interview
YUMA – Reyna Grande is coming to Yuma. Grande is a bestselling author, who is known for her memoir, The Distance Between Us. The book has become a required reading in schools across the country. Grande tells her journey as a Latina woman whose quest to find her place in America as a first-generation Latina university student and aspiring writer determined to build a new life for her family one fearless word at a time.
Yumadailynews.com got an exclusive interview with Grande, we asked how growing up in Iguala, Mexico shaped her into the author she is today. “Iguala is a place that has truly impacted me in both negative and positive ways, and it is a source of much of my inner turmoil,” says Grande. She went on to explain Iguala is an impoverished city where there aren’t many opportunities to get ahead in life. Grande says her father was forced to leave and go to the US, and her mother left as well because there weren’t many opportunities in Iguala. “Those who stayed don’t have it easy, and surviving and thriving is a struggle. Yet, there is beauty there too,” explained Grande. She also told us the Igulala community is what she misses the most. “People know each other, there is more social interaction, and kids play outside with one another. You can walk around the neighborhood and everyone knows who you are”, said Grande. When going back home Grande explains how she feels appreciated and humble for the things she has that others don’t. “Staying connected to Iguala keeps me humble,” says Grande.
How was the transition from school back home, to school in the states?
“It was difficult because I didn’t speak a word of English when I arrived and I was put into an English-only classroom. The school day is much longer here too. In Mexico, there is a morning shift and an afternoon shift. I used to go to the afternoon shift, so I here I had to get used to waking up really early to get to school on time. I’ve never been a morning person, even to this day”, says Grande. She says when coming to the U.S. everything was shocking to her. She explained how growing up in a small impoverished city in Mexico to the huge metropolis of Los Angeles, “I felt lost in many ways.”
Getting your bachelor’s degree was very important to you, did you ever think you would receive a college degree?
Grande remembers a time when she thought she wouldn’t make it to junior high school, let alone college. “My father only went to the 3rd grade because at nine he was put to work in the fields. My mother only made it to the 6th grade, and then she too had to work to help her family,” says Grande. She says her father’s dream for his children was to see them go to school and be working professionals. Unfortunately, there were so many obstacles in the way, though, not the least of which Grande says her father’s alcoholism and violent temper. When she made it to a university campus it was a miracle, so Grande explained. “It was also a very lonely experience. Being the first in your family to go to university means you have no one to guide you, no one to call and ask for advice, and no one to share experiences with, the good and the bad. But when I walked across that stage in June 1999, and I got my diploma, I did it for my grandpa, my parents, my siblings, and also the future generations in my family,” says Grande.
Could you explain the importance of your book A Dream Called Home? & What the books mean to you.
“The prequel to A Dream Called Home was my first memoir, The Distance Between Us, which chronicles my childhood in Mexico, my border crossing, and my coming-of-age in the US. In that book, I want to capture how borders impact immigrant families. A Dream Called Home continues on to my adulthood and captures my experiences as a first-generation college student as well as an inspiring writer. ADCH in a way is a love letter to first-gen students, transfer students, low-income students, and marginalized students. In particular, it centers on the experience of a young Latina navigating institutions where there is not enough Latinx representation–higher ed and the publishing industry. This book captures how I became the woman and writer I am today. And I’m grateful to be able to tell my own story my way.”
Yuma Main Library invited Grande to come out and talk about her book. The event will be on March 1st, 2023. Grande’s book A Dream Called Home was picked to be the 2023 One Book Yuma. Grande told Yumadailynews.com how honored, grateful, and humbled she felt when she heard the news. “But above all, I feel seen. As an immigrant writer, having my memoir chosen as the One Book Yuma is another way of saying, “We see you, and we welcome you into our community and our heart,” says Grande.
Author Reyna Grande will visit Yuma Wednesday, March 1st, to lead two community discussions:
Wednesday, March 1st 1:00-2:00 p.m.AZ Western College – Academic Library2020 S Ave 8 E, Yuma, AZ 85365Wednesday, March 1st • 6:30-7:30 p.m.Main Library – 1st Floor Meeting Rooms2951 S 21st Drive Yuma, AZ 85364
Any advice for aspiring authors out there?
“Prioritize your writing. Make the time for it. The only way to get the writing done is to do it. If you don’t do it, you will waste good energy feeling guilty and berating yourself for not being more dedicated. Might as well use that energy to actually write.” – Reyna Grande