Reyna Grande, an award-winning author, writes about the struggles of immigration and how destructive the journey can be to families. She will share her story at the 2013 Goostree Women’s Symposium at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, in Martin Hall. She recently spoke with Texas Wesleyan and provides insight into her writing and what she will be discussing during her visit to campus.
Your first book, Across a Hundred Mountains, won a 2010 Latino Books into Moves Award, a 2007 American Book Award, and the 2006 El Premio Aztlan Literary Award. Did you ever think it would be so successful?
The first person who received the manuscript was a Latino editor in New York. I thought he was going to love my book because he was Latino. But he was, in fact, the first who rejected it. I was surprised when a couple of months later an African-American editor loved my book and published it the way I had written it. I was even more surprised when it went on to win awards. Young readers continue to tell me that my book has made them fall in love with reading. I never imagined my book would touch people the way that it has.
Dancing with Butterflies, your second novel, has won critical acclaim and received a 2010 International Latino Book Award. Your work has been reviewed in the Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, and other national publications. As a writer, does it inspire you to know that your work is so well respected?
As a writer, these reviews make me feel very good about my work ethic. I have spent four years on each of my books. I have had people tell me, "I read your book in a day!" and they don't realize that it took me four years to write that book! It takes so much effort to make my writing seem effortless.
How do you think your memoir, The Distance Between Us can help other immigrant families?
My memoir portrays the good and the bad that comes from immigrating to the U.S. and I wanted to inspire young people who might be facing difficulties in their lives. I wanted to show them how important it is to continue to work hard and fight for their dreams. The beauty of this country is that there is a possibility of hope. And yes, the American Dream still exists for anyone willing to work hard!
As a first-generation college graduate, what advice can you offer?
Find a teacher or a counselor who can help you with scholarships, tutoring, or other resources that will make your college experience more rewarding and easier to navigate. Remember that it only takes one person to get your family to change paths – you are that person! You are making history!
What will you share at the symposium about families and the hardships they encounter during immigration?
A lot of the talk about immigration usually centers around the political or the economics of immigration. In my talk, I will add the human experience to the discussion, so that people remember that we are talking about human beings.