Students Ask the Author Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande

1) We have noticed that in Abuela Evila’s name you can see the word “evil” which is how she treated you, Mago and Carlos when you lived with her.  Did you change her name to fit her character?

Great question about my Abuela Evila!   That was, in fact, her real name.  I wouldn’t make up a name that was so over the top!   In fact, I remember a teacher of mine telling me I should change her name in my book.  But I decided to keep it because 1) that is her real name, and 2) that name suits her. 

2) Your story exposes so many of your family’s dysfunctional relationships early on in your memoir.  How did you get the courage to write about them? Were all the adults in the family afraid to stand up to Abuela Evila? 

 I have to say that it was very difficult to get past the fear of writing something that exposes my family’s dysfunction, but I write because it helps me to come to a deeper understanding about why things happened. If I had shied away from writing about things that made me uncomfortable, then I wouldn’t have benefited from the writing of it, nor would it have been honest writing. You have to go to the scary places, you have to confront those fears and the pain and face them head on.

 As for my grandmother, I have to say that everyone was afraid of her. Terrified of her. She had such a difficult personality that it was hard to get along with her. The only person she spoiled was my cousin Elida. But later in life, when my grandmother became ill with osteoporosis and she lost her grasp on reality, Elida wouldn’t tend to her. My grandmother died alone.  

3) Why do you think Mago was able to take on the role of being a little mother to you and Carlos?

Mago was a very loving sister, and she was very mature. I think that her maturity allowed her to see that if she didn’t step up to take care of us nobody else would. 

4) What made her so wise beyond her years? 

Living in poverty, and being the oldest, usually makes one grow up fast. There is a lot of responsibility placed on the first born, such as tending to the younger siblings and eventually even having to work to help out the family. Children who live in hardship such as we did don’t have long childhoods.

5) Did Mago show any resentment towards you or Carlos while she watched over you when she was in her little mother role?

I don’t remember her ever feeling resentful. She took her role very seriously. And I think she loved bossing us around and being the head of our little household! There were times, of course, when she just wanted to be a carefree girl, and I think this is why later in life, once she came of age, she made some choices that were not beneficial to her, but she just wanted to finally be free and live her life the way she wanted to. More than me, she still bears those emotional scars left from our childhood.



6 Responses to “Students Ask the Author Reyna Grande”

  1. David Janisch Says:

    Thank you Reyna for replying back to our class so we can further learn more about your book. We are enjoying reading it so much. I am one of the interpreters in the class interpeting for the deaf students in the class. David

  2. Jie Says:

    What a wonderful book! I love reading this book about Reyna’s true story instead of a boring book.

  3. Emily Ng Says:

    Thank You for answering our questions about the book “The Distance Between Us” and future questions we will have about this book. I enjoy reading your book. Thank You for being a part of our book project. I hope you can come to visit our class.

  4. Jonathan Paskiewicz Says:

    I can’t believe the name of your grandmother “Abuela Evila” is really her name! At first, I thought the book you wrote wasn’t your real story, but was a myth because of your grandmother’s name. I found out her name “Evila” in the book sounds like you added an “a” after the word “evil” to make it up. So now, after reading your answers, I believe your book is real! Well, the book is very great and the most unforgettable I’ve ever read! Thank you for sharing your past life story!

  5. Aleksandra Salukvadze Says:

       “The Distance Between Us” is not only an interesting literary piece but it is also a window into Mexican culture. It helped me learn more about Mexican folklore(the story about La Llorona), history and the mentality of Mexican people in general. Thank you for sharing your story with us and for being so honest! Also I want to thank our amazing teacher- Sandie Linn who works so hard every day to bring  every single detail of this story to us.

  6. rocio aguinaga Says:

    Hello!!! My name is Rocio Aguinaga. I live in San Diego California and I’m student at Center City. I’m attending the transition to college class with Sandie Linn and this semester the project is to read your book, The Distance Between Us. It is an honor to tell you that it is the first book I have read in English. (Other attempts were a little frustrating because with those books I couldn’t read as quickly as I used to, jejeje) But omg!!! Beautiful book with a great message for a person like me, an immigrant and living in the shadows as you say. But omg! What a wonderful book. It caught me when you wrote, “Neither of my grandmothers told us that there is something more powerful than La Llorona- a power that takes away parents, not children.” On my part, I can tell you that you accomplished your purpose by giving an immigrant like me the motivation to take advantage of the opportunities this country gives you. Thank you very much!! It feels like Carlos and Mago are like my cousins or something (lol). I’m sorry about your father, but I know he is so proud of you wherever he is. Thanks for giving us your story and providing us with the motivation to do our best.

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