So I have a little background story to tell, before I go into this review.
I am currently taking a Chicanos class for my upper division classes, that will get me my B.A. in Early Childhood Studies next Spring (2017). This is a class that is supposed to be focusing on the adolescence sides of the Chicano culture. Instead of a textbook to buy this semester, we were told to buy three literature novels that we would be reading this semester.
Two weeks ago we were given our first novel, which was a book called The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales. This was a fairly small book, written for a middle school audience, so it wasn't too bad finishing it in two weeks. Keep in mind, we have three other classes, equaling a full load of units for the semester, and I am in a program went for working adults who can't go to school during the day time, so we meet up twice a week in the evenings for class time.
Anyway, the Thursday before this last Thursday, our teacher told us that we would need to "START" reading the second book The Distance Between Us. Sure no problem.
But then this past Monday, as I was composing my list of things to do for school this week, I saw where we turned in our assignments online that we are supposed to have read Part 1 of the book by this past Thursday.
Uhhhh...okaayyy. Part 1 is 159 pages, half of the book. To be honest, I start panicking a little, because my list was already ridiculous for this week, and I pride myself on never turning in anything late.
During my classes on Monday, my fellow students and I (we all are in the same classes), started discussing how much work was needed for this class. On top of the reading, we were also supposed to complete the next section of the class, which consisted of various activities such as visiting a local health clinic, and a local Latino Health store (which we do not have in my town), and then writing up three pages of reflections to recount our experiences. These are all assignments that take time and travel. We were given a week to do those as well.
Well ANYWAY, on Tuesday we get an email from our teacher with an updated Syllabus calendar, and guess what was added for this week????
I was about half way done with part 1 at this point, and then I find out I had less than two days to complete the ENTIRE book! All 322 pages!
Which, I know, for you serious readers out there, who have the time, this isn't a big deal...and trust me, I used to be there with you! But I have busy weeks! I work a job that keeps me busy Monday through Friday all morning and early afternoon, I have errands to run and appointments, I have OTHER homework!
Here is what my schedule looked like for this week...(this is just homework):
(Note: the amount due for the Chicanos class, versus the other classes!)
While to some of you, I know I may sound like a total complainer right now, I will tell you that yes, I was extremely pissed this week. For one reason...the lack of notice we were given for this assignment. THREE Days! We were never told how much to read of the book until Monday of this week, we had been told to "Start it", and then just when we thought we were done with the assignment...just kidding add the WHOLE thing!
But anyway, I have MADE IT! She luckily extended the turn-in date to today for both Part 1 and Part 2, but I was able to complete Part 1 by Thursday, and turned in Part 2 last night!
So now I figured because I actually got to read a novel for one of my class, why not write a review about it??
"A brutally honest book...akin to being the Angela's Ashes of the modern Mexican immigrant experience" (Los Angeles Times).
Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in the this "compelling...unvarnished, resonate" (BookPage) story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries. As her parents make the dangerous trek across the Mexican border to "El Otro Lado" (The Other Side) in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced into the already overburdened household of their stern grandmother. When their moth at last returns, Reyna prepares for her own journey to "El Otro Lado" to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father.
Funny, heartbreaking, and lyrical, The Distance Between Us poignantly captures the confusion and contradictions of childhood, reminding us that the joys and sorrows we experience are imprinted on the heart forever, calling out to us of those places we first called home.
I actually got very hooked on this book! It is so not my normal read. It's a very serious memoir, and while I was promised some funny moments through the back cover description, there weren't really any that I can think of.
Overall, though this is a great novel! It talks about a subject that is kind of taboo here in America...Immigration. This subject hits very close to home, because my family immigrated to the US from Germany almost 18 years ago, and it was very interesting listening to a similar story but with much more heartbreak, and hard times than my family and I had to endure.
It was GOOD!
It was one of those books that I think will stick with me for quite some time. It was sad hearing Reyna's story, because growing up in Southern California this has become a rather stereotypical negative view that a lot of white, upper-class Californians have of the Mexican population. The view of that ALL Mexicans cross the border using a Coyote (a paid individual who helps people cross the border illegally), the father of the family abandons his family to go off and make money in America to send back. ALL Mexicans abuse the welfare system. ALL adult Mexicans don't want to learn English. And the children are punished for what their parents have decided, but no one sees it that way.
I cannot even tell you how many times I have heard that that is what "ALL Mexicans are like". Which pisses me off to no end!!! You may have heard certain republicans right now on the news, that sure like pointing out these narrow-sided views.
Reyna really enlightens readers with her side of the story, because it shows how often families are torn apart, and how much it affects the children. Reyna was abandoned multiple times by both of her parents, and each time my heart broke with hers. I think this is a great story that a lot of people should read, to get possibly a new view.
Thanks everyone! :)
The Romance Bookie :)