Reyna Grande

Bestselling Memoirist & Novelist
Award Winning Author
Travels from: Sacramento, CA

“Reyna is a warm and expressive speaker who portrays the experience of child immigration and family separation in a way that speaks to all humans. She is very accessible and open about her experiences and willing to answer questions and explore ideas with teens, families, and adults.” – Hamilton East Library, 2021

Reyna Grande is the author of the bestselling memoir, The Distance Between Us, (2012) where she writes about her life before and after she arrived in the United States from Mexico as an undocumented child immigrant. The much-anticipated sequel, A Dream Called Home , was released in 2018. Her other works include the novels, Across a Hundred Mountains, (2006) and Dancing with Butterflies (2009) which were published to critical acclaim. The Distance Between Us is also available as a young readers edition from Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Division–Aladdin. Her books have been adopted as the common read selection by schools, colleges and cities across the country. Currently, she is at work on several projects due to be published in 2022-23: A Ballad of Love and Glory (March 2022), a novel set during the Mexican-American War; an anthology by and about undocumented Americans called Somewhere We Are Human: Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival and New Beginnings (June 2022); and the young reader’s adaption of Spare Parts by Joshua Davis.

Reyna has received an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award, and the International Latino Book Award. In 2012, she was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Awards, and in 2015 she was honored with a Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. The young reader’s version of The Distance Between Us received a 2017 Honor Book Award for the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature and a 2016 Eureka! Honor Awards from the California Reading Association, and an International Literacy Association Children’s Book Award 2017. Writing about immigration, family separation, language trauma, the price of the American Dream, and her writing journey, Reyna’s work has appeared in The New York Times, the Dallas Morning News, CNN, The Lily at The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, among others. In March 2020, she was a guest in Oprah’s Book Club.

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A Ballad of Love and Glory: A Novel

Atria Books |
Novel

A Long Petal of the Sea meets Cold Mountain in this sweeping historical saga following a Mexican army nurse and an Irish soldier who must fight, at first for their survival and then for their love, amidst the atrocity of the Mexican-American War—from the author of the “timely and riveting” (People) Across a Hundred Mountains and The Distance Between Us.

A forgotten war. An unforgettable romance.

The year is 1846. After the controversial annexation of Texas, the US Army marches south to provoke war with México over the disputed Río Grande boundary.​

Ximena Salomé is a gifted Mexican healer who dreams of building a family with the man she loves on the coveted land she calls home. But when Texas Rangers storm her ranch and shoot her husband dead, her dreams are burned to ashes. Vowing to honor her husband’s memory and defend her country, Ximena uses her healing skills as an army nurse on the frontlines of the ravaging war.

Meanwhile, John Riley, an Irish immigrant in the Yankee army desperate to help his family escape the famine devastating his homeland, is sickened by the unjust war and the unspeakable atrocities against his countrymen by nativist officers. In a bold act of defiance, he swims across the Río Grande and joins the Mexican Army—a desertion punishable by execution. He forms the St. Patrick’s Battalion, a band of Irish soldiers willing to fight to the death for México’s freedom.

When Ximena and John meet, a dangerous attraction blooms between them. As the war intensifies, so does their passion. Swept up by forces with the power to change history, they fight not only for the fate of a nation but for their future together.

Heartbreaking and lyrical, Reyna Grande’s spellbinding saga, inspired by true events and historical figures, brings these two unforgettable characters to life and illuminates a largely forgotten moment in history that impacts the US-México border to this day.

Will Ximena and John survive the chaos of this bitter war, or will their love be devoured along with the land they strive to defend?

La búsqueda de un sueño (A Dream Called Home Spanish edition)

Atria Books |
Memoir

La extraordinaria historia de Reyna Grande—que comenzó en su exitosa autobiografía La distancia entre nosotros—continúa ahora en esta fabulosa travesía para encontrar su lugar en los Estados Unidos como universitaria latina de primera generación y como escritora.

Reyna Grande tenía nueve años cuando cruzó la frontera de México y los Estados Unidos buscando un hogar y el reencuentro con sus padres, quienes la habían dejado en su tierra natal para migrar a Los Ángeles en busca de una mejor vida. Sin embargo, lo que encontró fue a una madre indiferente y a un padre alcohólico y violento, en un país cuyo sistema educativo menospreciaba sus raíces.

Reyna se refugió en las palabras. Su amor por la lectura y la escritura fueron su inspiración para salir adelante y lograr lo que parecía imposible: ser la primera persona en su familia en asistir a la universidad. Pero la experiencia universitaria resultó intimidante, y muy pronto descubrió que desconocía lo que se requiere para forjar una carrera a partir de un sueño.

Contra viento y marea, Reyna convirtió su condición de inmigrante indocumentada en la de “una escritora valiente, inteligente y brillante” (Cheryl Strayed, autora de Wild) que “habla por millones de inmigrantes cuyas voces no han sido escuchadas” (Sandra Cisneros, autora de La casa en Mango Street). Narrada con esa prosa conmovedora y sincera que la caracteriza, en La búsqueda de un sueño Reyna Grande nos relata cómo persiguió sus sueños para construir lo que siempre había anhelado: un hogar duradero.

A Dream Called Home: A Memoir

Atria Books |
Memoir

“The emotional and practical challenges for a young immigrant are on full display in Grandes evocative, inspiring memoir.” —People

From bestselling author Reyna Grande—whose remarkable memoir The Distance Between Us has become required reading in schools across the country—comes an inspiring account of one woman’s 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.

When Reyna Grande was nine years old, she walked across the US–Mexico border in search of a home, desperate to be reunited with the parents who had left her behind years before for a better life in the City of Angels. What she found instead was an indifferent mother, an abusive, alcoholic father, and a school system that belittled her heritage.

With so few resources at her disposal, Reyna finds refuge in words, and it is her love of reading and writing that propels her to rise above until she achieves the impossible and is accepted to the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Although her acceptance is a triumph, the actual experience of American college life is intimidating and unfamiliar for someone like Reyna, who is now once again estranged from her family and support system. Again, she finds solace in words, holding fast to her vision of becoming a writer, only to discover she knows nothing about what it takes to make a career out of a dream.

Through it all, Reyna is determined to make the impossible possible, going from undocumented immigrant of little means to “a fierce, smart, shimmering light of a writer” (Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild); a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist “speak[ing] for millions of immigrants whose voices have gone unheard” (Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street); and a proud mother of two beautiful children who will never have to know the pain of poverty and neglect.

Told in Reyna’s exquisite, heartfelt prose, A Dream Called Home demonstrates how, by daring to pursue her dreams, Reyna was able to build the one thing she had always longed for: a home that would endure.

The Distance Between Us: Young Readers Edition

Aladdin |
Young Adult

Award-winning author Reyna Grande shares her compelling experience of crossing borders and cultures in this middle grade adaptation of her “compelling…unvarnished, resonant” (BookPage) memoir, The Distance Between Us.

When her parents make the dangerous and illegal trek across the Mexican border in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced to live with their stern grandmother, as they wait for their parents to build the foundation of a new life.

But when things don’t go quite as planned, Reyna finds herself preparing for her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years: her long-absent father. Both funny and heartbreaking, The Distance Between Us beautifully captures the struggle that Reyna and her siblings endured while trying to assimilate to a different culture, language, and family life in El Otro Lado (The Other Side).

La distancia entre nosotros (Atria Espanol)

Atria Books |
Memoir
“Una historia desgarradora sobre el otro lado de la experiencia del inmigrante a EEUU– la penuria y la desolación de los niños dejados atrás por sus padres.” —Sonia Nazario, ganadora del premio Pulitzer y autora de La travesía de Enrique

Cuando el padre de Reyna Grande deja a su esposa y sus tres hijos atrás en un pueblo de México para hacer el peligroso viaje a través de la frontera a los Estados Unidos, promete que pronto regresará con el dinero suficiente para construir la casa de sus sueños. Sus promesas se vuelven más difíciles de creer cuando los meses de espera se convierten en años. Cuando se lleva a su esposa para reunirse con él, Reyna y sus hermanos son depositados en el hogar ya sobrecargado de su abuela paterna, Evila, una mujer endurecida por la vida.

Los tres hermanos se ven obligados a cuidar de sí mismos. En los juegos infantiles encuentran una manera de olvidar el dolor del abandono y a resolver problemas de adultos. Cuando su madre regresa, la reunión sienta las bases para un capítulo nuevo y dramático en la vida de Reyna: su propio viaje a El otro lado para vivir con el hombre que ha poseído su imaginación durante años— su padre ausente.

En esta memoria extraordinaria, la galardonada escritora Reyna Grande le da vida a sus años tumultuosos, capturando la confusión y las contradicciones de una infancia divida entre dos padres y dos países. Sólo en los libros, en la música y en su rica imaginación ella encontrará consuelo, un refugio momentáneo de un mundo en el que cada lugar se siente como El otro lado. La distancia entre nosotros capta el paso de una niña de la infancia a la adolescencia y más allá. Una divertida, lírica, pero desgarradora historia, nos recuerda que las alegrías y las tristezas de la infancia están siempre con nosotros, impresas en el corazón, recordándonos de ese lugar que fue nuestro primer hogar.

También disponible en inglés como The Distance Between Us.

A Migrant's Story

Classroom Guides & Lesson Plans

The Reyna Grande Scholarship at UC Santa Cruz

Reyna’s Upcoming Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

2022 Los Angeles Times Book Club Pick
International Literacy Association Children’s Book Award 2017
2016 Eureka! Honor Awards from the California Reading Association
2017 Honor Book Award for the Américas Award for Children’s Literature
Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature 2015
National Book Critics Circle Awards Finalist 2012
2010 International Latino Book Award
American Book Award 2007
El Premio Aztlan Literary Award 2006
Las Comadres Para Las Americas Book Club Nov/2012
One of the Best Adult Books 4 Teens 2012 (School Library Journal)
One of the 15 Best Books of 2012 (The Christian Science Monitor)

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