Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande (born 7 September 1975, Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico) is a Mexican author living in the United States.

Reyna Grande
Grande at the 2018 Texas Book Festival.
Grande at the 2018 Texas Book Festival.
Born (1975-09-07) September 7, 1975 (age 46)
Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico
NationalityMexican American
EducationB.A, University of California, Santa Cruz
MFA, Antioch University
Notable worksAcross a Hundred Mountains
Dancing with Butterflies
The Distance Between Us
A Dream Called Home


Grande grew up in poverty with her two siblings in Iguala, Guerrero. When she was under five years old, her father moved to the U.S. to earn money to build a house in Iguala but wasn't successful. He called for Grande’s mother, who left Grande and her siblings with their paternal grandmother. Her father later returned to take her eldest sibling to the United States, but Grande and her other siblings wanted to go as well. Thus, Grande traveled to the U.S. as an undocumented child immigrant via an illegal border crossing at the age of about 9. She went on to become the first in her family to obtain a college degree.[1]

Grande attended Pasadena City College and later transferred to University of California, Santa Cruz, where she obtained a B.A. degree in literature/creative writing.[2] She later received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Antioch University. She has been honored with an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlan Literary Award, and most recently, the Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature.

Grande is a member of the prestigious Macondo Writers Workshop, the workshop founded by Sandra Cisneros. She has taught creative writing at UCLA Extension's Writer's Program, at VONA (Voices of Our Nation's Arts), the Latino Writer's Conference, and more.


Grande's first novel, Across a Hundred Mountains. draws heavily on her own experiences growing up in Mexico and as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S.[3] The book was selected by a number of common read programs.

Grande's second novel, Dancing with Butterflies (Washington Square Press, 2009),[3] was published to critical acclaim. An excerpt of Dancing with Butterflies was published in 2008 as a short story, titled "Adriana," in Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature (Bilingual Press), edited by Daniel Olivas.[4]

In 2012, Atria Books published Grande's memoir, The Distance Between Us,[5][3] a coming-of-age story about her life before and after coming to the U.S. as an undocumented child immigrant. In an interview published by the Los Angeles Review of Books on 6 December 2012, Grande explained why she decided to part from fiction to tell her story:

Even though my novels are very personal, and the material I write about is drawn from my own experience, they are fictional stories. After I completed my second novel, I wanted to write the real story about my life, before and after illegally immigrating to the US from Mexico. I wanted to shed light on the complexities of immigration and how immigration affected my entire family in both positive and negative ways.[6]

The Distance Between Us was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (autobiography category).[7] In 2016, Aladdin, a division of Simon and Schuster, republished the memoir as a young readers adaptation for ages 10-14. As with Across a Hundred Mountains, The Distance Between Us has been selected for a number of common read programs such as the 2018 Keker First Year Common Read at UNC Greensboro, Rochester Reads 2018, MacReads 2018 at Linfield College, the One Book/One Michiana 2018, All Henrico Reads 2018, Notre Dame Academy Common Reader 2017, the CityRead Book 2017 in Brentwood, CA, Timberland Reads Together 2017 in Washington, the 2017 One Book, One Canyon in Telluride, CO, the 2017 Estes Park One Book, One Valley, the 2017 Cal Poly Pomona Common Read, the 2017 Northern Kentucky University First Year Experience, the 2017 Avila University First Year Experience, the 2017 Marist College Common Read, the 2017 Cal State University, Monterey Bay Common Reading Experience, the 2016 One Book/One Community in Saginaw, MI, the 2016 Colorado Mountain College Common Reader Selection, the 2016 Camarillo Reads Selection in Camarillo, CA, the 2015 One Book/One Villanova at Villanova University, PA, the 2015 Sandy Springs Reads selection in Sandy Springs, GA, the 2015 Los Angeles City College Book Program Selection, CA, the 2015 Mount San Jacinto College Common Read Selection, the 2015 Read 2 Succeed Selection at Norco College, the 2015 Roswell Reads Selection in Roswell, GA, 2015 One Book/One Leyden selection at Leyden High School, IL, the 2014 One Maryland, One Book, the 2014 One Community, One Book selection from the U of Iowa Center for Human Rights, the 2014 Santa Rosa Junior College Reads, the 2014 One Book, One Community at San Juan College, the 2014 Rolling Meadows High School Summer Reading Program, the 2014-15 “Book in Common” at Butte College/Chico State University, the Grand Valley State University 2013 “Common Reading” selection, the California State University-Los Angeles “First Year Experience” Selection, the 2014 Goshen College, “First Year Experience” Selection.

In October 2018, the much-anticipated sequel, A Dream Called Home,[3] was released by Atria, earning a starred review from Publishers Weekly. “This uplifting story of fortitude and resilience looks deeply into the complexities of immigration and one woman’s struggle to adapt and thrive in America."[8] People Magazine said of the book, “The emotional and practical challenges for a young immigrant are on full display in Grande’ s evocative, inspiring memoir.”


  • 2006 Premio Aztlán Literary Award — for Across a Hundred Mountains
  • 2007 American Book Award — for Across a Hundred Mountains
  • 2010 International Book Award — for Dancing with Butterflies
  • 2012 Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award - for The Distance Between Us
  • 2015 Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature
  • 2016 Eureka! Honor Awards from the California Reading Association--for The Distance Between Us, young readers edition
  • 2017 Honor Book Award for the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature - for The Distance Between Us, young readers edition
  • International Literacy Association Children’s Book Award 2017 - for The Distance Between Us, young readers version


  • Across a Hundred Mountains (Atria, 2006) — selected:
  • Dancing with Butterflies (Washington Square Press, 2009)
  • The Distance Between Us (Atria Books, 2012) — selected:
  • A Dream Called Home: A Memoir, (Simon and Schuster, 2018) ISBN 9781501171437


  1. ^ Dahir, Arwa. "The DISC welcomes Reyna Grande". The Pioneer. Retrieved 2019-10-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Rappaport, Scott; Writer 459-2496, Staff. "Alumni Profile: Across a Hundred Mountains". UC Santa Cruz News. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  3. ^ a b c d Pederson, Erik (4 June 2022). "The Book Pages: Reyna Grande shares the books she loves (and one she didn't)". Orange County: MediaNews Group. Archived from the original (Response to questionnaire) on 4 June 2022. Retrieved 10 June 2022. Reyna Grande is the author of the bestselling memoir “The Distance Between Us” and its sequel “A Dream Called Home” as well as the novels “Across a Hundred Mountains” and “Dancing With Butterflies.” Among her achievements, she has been awarded the American Book Award, the International Latino Book Award and an International Literacy Association Children’s Book Award —and she’s appeared on Oprah’s Book Club. Earlier this year, Grande spoke to us about her most recent novel, “A Ballad of Love and Glory,” and she’s now answering the Book Pages questionnaire ahead of the June 7 publication of “Somewhere We Are Human: Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival, and New Beginnings” an anthology that Grande edited with Sonia Guiñansaca.
  4. ^ Olivas (Ed.), Daniel A. (2008). "Adriana". Latinos in Lotusland. Arizona State University: Bilingual Press. ISBN 978-1-931010-47-4.
  5. ^ Grande, Reyna (2012). The distance between us. New York: Atria Books. ISBN 9781451661774.
  6. ^ Olivas, Daniel (June 2015). "Reyna Grande's Journey: Daniel Olivas interviews Reyna Grande". Los Angeles Review of Books. Archived from the original on December 10, 2018. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  7. ^ John Williams (14 January 2013). "National Book Critics Circle Names 2012 Award Finalists". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  8. ^ "A Dream Called Home". Retrieved 2019-10-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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