Separated by borders
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The Distance Between Us: a Memoir by Reyna Grande is the 2014 selection for the One Community, One Book annual reading program sponsored by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR) in the College of Law.
This book is the story of the difficulties families face when they are separated by borders. Four-year-old Grande and her two older siblings were left behind in a small, impoverished rural town in Mexico when her mother joined her father in El Otro Lado (the Other Side). He had left when Grande was two years old and she had no memory of him. Both parents left in search of better jobs as work was scarce in their small town of Iguala, leaving the children with their paternal grandparents.
Young Grande grappled with abandonment, uncertainty, malnutrition, and mistreatment. Her older siblings, especially her sister, were her only sources of comfort. Family changes occurred and when Grande was 10 years old, her father reluctantly took all three children across the border with him. They faced many adjustments—learning English and avoiding deportation until they eventually got green cards and later citizenship, getting reacquainted with their father, and the feeling of not belonging in either the U.S. or Mexico. Grande discovered books and writing, worked hard in school, earned a college degree and later a Master of Fine Arts, and found her place in her adopted country.
Now in its 14th year, One Community, One Book encourages community members to read and come together to discuss the same book selection with a human rights or social justice theme.
This year, the center is partnering with the City of Literature to hold a capstone event during the Iowa City Book Festival. Additional details will be posted to websites for both the UICHR and the City of Literature as plans evolve. Discussion forums will be held in a variety of locations and more information will be posted as it becomes available at the UI Center for Human Rights website.
The UI Center for Human Rights is part of the UI College of Law. For more information, contact Joan Nashelsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 319-384-2209.