Author Profile

Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande is an award-winning novelist and memoirist. She has received an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlan Literary Award, and the Latino Book Award. In 2012, she was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Awards and is the 2015 recipient of the Luis Leal Literature Award from the University of California Santa Barbara. Her works have been published internationally in countries such as Norway and South Korea.

Her novels, Across a Hundred Mountains, (Atria, 2006) and Dancing with Butterflies (Washington Square Press, 2009) were published to critical acclaim and have been read widely in schools across the country. Her latest book, The Distance Between Us, was published in August 2012, by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. In this memoir, Reyna writes about her life before and after illegally immigrating from Mexico to the United States. A National Book Circle Critics Award finalist, The Distance Between Us is an inspirational coming-of-age story about the pursuit of a better life. The Los Angeles Times hailed it as "the Angela's Ashes of the modern Mexican immigrant experience."

Born in Mexico, Reyna was two years old when her father left for the U.S. to find work. Her mother followed her father north two years later, leaving Reyna and her siblings behind in Mexico. In 1985, when Reyna was going on ten, she entered the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant. She later went on to become the first person in her family to graduate from college.

After attending Pasadena City College for two years, Reyna obtained a B.A. in creative writing and film & video from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She later received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Antioch University. Now, in addition to being a published author, she is also an active promoter of Latino literature and is a sought-after speaker at high schools, colleges, and universities across the nation.

Currently Reyna teaches creative writing at UCLA Extension and is at work on her next novel.

"We loved Reyna. She was one of the best One Book authors we've had. So open and honest. Reyna is great at answering questions. Even the silly questions, or repetitive questions she answered respectfully and fully."
-- Traci HalesVass, Farmington One Book Community

"Reyna gave of her time generously to Goshen College students with three distinct yet beautifully connected talks. Her storytelling was effective and meaningful. Our first generation and Latino college students were profoundly moved by Reyna's story, but the impact of her visit was felt by our full college community."
-- Beverly Lapp, Goshen College

"Everyone LOVED Reyna's address. She ranked a 4.8 out of 5. She was able to weave her story together with humor and heartstrings to impress the need for supporting newcomer students. Additionally, the parent group loved having the opportunity for an intimate conversation with her. They commented that they felt inspired and connected."
-- Suzanne Marks, Camino Nuevo Charter School

"Reyna was a pleasure to work with and had a very powerful impact on the students and the community as a whole. She is a wonderful role model."
-- Dan Goodsell, Cal State Chico Book In Common

"Reyna Grande's A DREAM CALLED HOME is a moving memoir about building a family, becoming a writer, and redefining America. Writers in need of inspiration should read this book."
-- Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author of THE SYMPATHIZER

For more about Reyna and her works, go to

Reviews of The Distance Between Us

I've been waiting for this book for decades. The American story of the new millennium is the story of the Latino immigrant, yet how often has the story been told by the immigrant herself? What makes Grande's beautiful memoir all the more extraordinary is that, through this hero's journey, she speaks for millions of immigrants whose voices have gone unheard.
-- Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

Reyna Grande is a fierce, smart, shimmering light of a writer with an important story to tell.
-- Cheryl Strayed, author of WIld

A brutally honest book... the 'Angela's Ashes' of the modern Mexican immigrant experience.
-- the Los Angeles Times,

Grande captivates and inspires.
-- Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Videos featuring Reyna Grande

The Latino Reyna Grande and The Distance Between Us

St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration Lecture: One Book Author Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande at RIT Rochester Reads

Author puts face on controversial issue of illegal immigration