The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us

by

Reyna Grande

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The Distance Between Us: Book Two: Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One afternoon, Mila picks Reyna up from school early to take her to the dentist. Reyna has been suffering toothaches for months, and though their lack of money and insurance has prevented Reyna from going to the dentist, Mila has at last decided to use her own biological daughter’s insurance, and pass Reyna off as her daughter Cindy, who is just ten months younger than Reyna.
Though she is now in El Otro Lado, Reyna is still suffering from health problems which result from the extreme poverty and neglect she faced back in Mexico.
Themes
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
At the office, Reyna has one of her baby molars pulled after a large cavity is discovered inside of it. Groggy from the anesthesia on the way home, Reyna addresses Mila as “Mamá Mila,” and Mila swiftly and cruelly reprimands her. Reyna apologizes with tears in her eyes.
Reyna is in a vulnerable state and surely longing for her mother on the way home from the dentist—she attempts to find comfort in seeing Mila as a mother figure, but Mila rejects Reyna’s attempts to grow closer to her.
Themes
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Back at home, Reyna relays the story to Mago, who replies that Reyna got what she deserved for being a “traitor” to their own mother. Reyna feels ashamed—and even more so for thinking of all the ways in which Mila has “advantages” that their own mother does not. When Papi gets home, Reyna hears Mila, in the next room, tell him that she’s not going to take his children to any more doctor’s appointments in the future.
Mila makes it clear to Papi that she does not see herself as his children’s mother, and does not want to put herself out there for them. Just as Evila rejected her own grandchildren, Mila now rejects what are essentially her stepchildren—and Mago’s words make Reyna feel as if Mila is justified in doing so.
Themes
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon