‘I traveled through madness to find me” is a quote I believe resonates with Reyna Grande’s memoir “The distance between us. In this book, Reyna Grande takes us on a journey of the struggles she faced as a child through adulthood of getting to “El Otro Lado.” Grande recounts the feelings of loneliness, betrayal, sorrow, rage, and yearning she and her siblings felt after their father and next by her mother. Reyna Grande in “The Distance Between Us “ opens with her crushing news of her mother leaving her life in Iguala to pursue a new one in “El Otro Lado” in hopes of one day taking them leaving her with the feeling of abandonment and betrayal, which later allows us the insight into how the trauma has affected her into early adulthood.
At first, we read of her initial abandonment and betrayal that Reyna and her siblings experience when their Mama departs from Iguala to the United States. This wasn’t the first time this had occurred in their lives, their father has already been gone for years. As a result, Reyna and her siblings cling to their mother even when she goes out on short walks around the neighborhood, always afraid that she will leave them. Their fear is a result of their father’s abandonment, which is, a former experience that has left its lasting imprint on Reyna and her family. Many years of abuse from their Abuela Evila was an immediate result of their mother’s abandonment that resulted in strengthening their feelings of abandonment, contained feelings of resentment towards their mother that also has unseen effects throughout the rest of their lives.
Consequently, when in Los Angeles with their father and wife, Mila. Reyna and her siblings face a new kind of betrayal: the betrayal of realizing that their father is not the man they imagined him to be. Papi is not loving, kind, and understanding, however fairly vicious and violent. He makes cruel commands of them and maintaining them to foolishly high expectations in exchange for allowing them to live in the United States. Through the betrayals and abandonment, she developed discomfort in letting people down, particularly to her father. As a result of the constant reminder that he brought them to the U.S, they trembled to not making Papi proud. Despite how outstanding they behaved or performed in school, there was always a lack of acknowledgment from their father. Reyna and her siblings became paralyzed by their learned fear of abandonment and remained in a miserable situation with Papi until they each, independently, reach their breaking points. Reyna was the last to leave, continuing in her father’s house until he tells her she was no longer welcome. She felt it was necessary to cling onto an abusive, traumatic relationship because the only other alternative was feeling abandoned, rejected, and betrayed. this expresses how Reyna and her siblings have learned to fear being left behind.
Throughout the book, Reyna appeared to struggle to be herself. Her entire childhood while she would be her authentic self she was left, leaving her to doubt her worthiness. So, instead, she would try to be the person that others want her to be. Reyna rebels against her father in secret ways that seem to connect her desire to establish her worth, even if Papi doesn’t know about them. With her reckless behavior of having unprotected sex and finding ways to prove her worth to herself, she finds herself in a dangerous situation to make her feel good about herself. She arrives unprepared for an audition not getting picked. On her way back home two men call out to her from a car, asking if she wants a modeling job. In the attempt to gain some worth she is confronted in a situation where she’s left to strip for photographs, at which point Reyna flees, running down the street until her lungs hurt.
Furthermore, Reyna Grande took us on her journey through her childhood allowing us to see the constant theme of betrayal and abandonment. We gained insight into each situation and how it has negatively affected her until early adulthood. As a reader, I was able to analyze her childhood as she gained resentment, found discomfort in letting her father down, and witnessed her struggle to find herself. Reyna had a tough upbringing but she persevered. ‘I traveled through madness to find me”.
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