The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us


Reyna Grande

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The Distance Between Us Characters

Reyna Grande Rodriguez

Reyna, the author and protagonist of the book, is a sensitive, imaginative, and introspective child whose harsh upbringing in poor and rural Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico forms a foundation of poverty, abuse, and abandonment that she… read analysis of Reyna Grande Rodriguez

Papi / Natalio Grande

Reyna, Mago, and Carlos’s father Natalio has been living in America since before most of them can remember. Wanting to make enough money to build a “dream house” for his family in… read analysis of Papi / Natalio Grande

Mami / Juana Rodriguez

Reyna, Mago, and Carlos’s mother leaves them behind to go to America in the opening chapter of the memoir. The remainder of the book explores the distances—both physical and emotional—that her abandonment… read analysis of Mami / Juana Rodriguez

Mago Grande Rodriguez

Mago is Reyna’s older sister, and a maternal figure who becomes Reyna and Carlos’s “little mother” after their real mother, Juana, leaves for America to join their father Natalio there. Mago is… read analysis of Mago Grande Rodriguez

Carlos Grande Rodriguez

Reyna’s older brother Carlos is a quiet and shy boy whose crooked teeth are a source of embarrassment for him throughout his childhood and adolescence. Carlos is often in the background of the action… read analysis of Carlos Grande Rodriguez
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Mila Grande

Papi’s second wife, Mila, is a stylish and modern woman who is a U.S. citizen. As such she enjoys special privileges, and is able to travel freely between the United States and Mexico. She… read analysis of Mila Grande


Reyna, Mago, and Carlos’s youngest full sibling, who was born in America while Mami was living there with Papi. Betty is separated from her three older siblings both by age and… read analysis of Betty

Abuela Evila

Papi’s mother and Reyna, Mago, and Carlos’s grandmother. After Juana leaves to join Natalio in El Otro Lado, the three children are sent to live with their grandmother, who abuses them… read analysis of Abuela Evila


Reyna, Mago, and Carlos’s cousin. Because she is the child of one of Abuela Evila’s own daughters, she receives preferential treatment, and often teases Reyna and her siblings about being orphans… read analysis of Élida

Diana Savas

One of Reyna’s teachers at Pasadena City College who becomes her friend and mentor, and takes her in when Natalio’s abuse becomes unbearable. Diana believes in Reyna’s talent as a writer and gives… read analysis of Diana Savas
Minor Characters
Mami’s second husband.
Abuelo Augurio
Reyna, Mago, and Carlos’s grandfather.
Tía Emperatriz
The youngest of Abuela Evila’s children. Reyna, Mago, and Carlos come to see Emperatriz as something of a mother figure while they are living under Evila’s roof, as she is young, maternal, and kind towards them in the face of Evila’s abuse and cruelty.
Tía María Félix
Élida’s mother.
Abuelita Chinta
Juana’s mother, a kind old woman who is the village healer in Iguala and a figure of wisdom and comfort in the community.
Tío Crece
Reyna, Mago, and Carlos’s uncle and Juana’s brother. Tío Crece suffers from schizophrenia, and is subject to fits of madness. He is an odd man and his behavior around Reyna and her siblings is often inappropriate, yet they have a good relationship. Carlos especially grows close with Crece.
Tío Gary
Reyna, Mago, and Carlos’s uncle and Juana’s second brother.
Doña Caro
One of Reyna’s neighbors in Iguala who lives in the “prettiest house” around.
Don Lino
Doña Caro’s husband, a well-to-do welder.
Tía Güera
Juana’s sister.
Tía Güera’s daughter.
A classmate of Mago’s, who she develops a crush on.
A classmate of Carlos’s who he develops a crush on. When Mago defends Carlos from María’s taunts, the two wind up fighting, and Mago beats María badly as a way of taking out her aggressions related to her own thwarted crush on Pepe.
Mrs. Anderson
Reyna’s teacher in elementary school.
Mr. Lopez
Reyna’s English teacher in elementary school.
A boy Reyna has feelings for in high school, Axel is embarrassed by Reyna and will only kiss her or pay attention to her in private.
Reyna’s first real boyfriend in high school, and the boy to whom she loses her virginity.
Don Bartolo 
A shopkeeper in Iguala.
Reyna’s college boyfriend.
A boy Reyna has a crush on. After sharing her first kiss with Luis, Reyna thinks they will become boyfriend and girlfriend, but after Luis witnesses Natalio pulling Reyna down the street by her hair, he begins avoiding her at school and even making fun of her.
Reyna’s best friend for a time in high school.