The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us

by

Reyna Grande

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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 Iguala, Papi long ago left for the United States so that he could make more money and secure a real home for their family. Since the children barely remember their father, they create images of him in their heads, and Reyna, relaying her inner fantasy life as a child, speaks loftily of “The Man Behind the Glass”—an image of her father as an upstanding, generous, loving family man, which she creates based on the few framed photographs their family has of Natalio. When Papi unexpectedly comes to visit during Reyna’s eighth year, he announces that he is taking Mago back to the United States in order to give her the opportunity for an education—Carlos and Reyna beg to come along, and he reluctantly agrees to allow them to undertake the dangerous, frightening border crossing. Once in Los Angeles, the three children find themselves face-to-face with a father who is very different from the doting Papi they’d always imagined. Natalio, who was subjected to abuse himself at an early age, is a violent alcoholic who beats his children when they fail to live up to the high expectations he’s placed upon them. In giving them the opportunity to pursue prosperity and education in America, he demands nothing short of perfection—and yet fails to provide his children with the emotional support they need to thrive. Papi’s contradictory nature—violent and drunk one moment, sober and wise and gentle the next—ties in with the novel’s themes of abuse, abandonment, inherited trauma, family, and forgiveness.

Papi / Natalio Grande Quotes in The Distance Between Us

The The Distance Between Us quotes below are all either spoken by Papi / Natalio Grande or refer to Papi / Natalio Grande. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Washington Square Press edition of The Distance Between Us published in 2012.
Book One: Chapter 2 Quotes

Mago and I sat on the dirt floor, and she told me about the day I was born exactly the way Mami used to tell it. She pointed to the circle of rocks and a pile of ash and told me that during my birth, a fire had been on while Mami had squatted on the ground, over a straw mat, grabbing the rope hanging from the ceiling. When I was born, the midwife put me into my mother's arms. She turned to face the fire so that the heat would keep me warm. As I listened to Mago, I closed my eyes and felt the heat of the flames, and I heard Mami's heart beating against my ear.

Mago pointed to a spot on the dirt floor and reminded me that my umbilical cord was buried there. That way, Mami told the midwife, no matter where life takes her, she won't ever forget where she came from.

But then Mago touched my belly button and added something to the story my mother had never told me. She said that my umbilical cord was like a ribbon that connected me to Mami. She said, "It doesn’t matter that there's a distance between us now. That cord is there forever." I touched my belly button and thought about what my sister had said. I had Papi's photo to keep me connected to him. I had no photo of my mother, but now my sister had given me something to remember her by.

Page Number: 21-22
Explanation and Analysis:

Don Bartolo took my grandmother's coin from his pocket and handed it to me. "Don't ever think that your parents don't love you," he said. "It is because they love you very much that they have left."

As I walked home with the needle for my grandmother, I told myself that maybe Don Bartolo was right. I had to keep on believing my parents left me because they loved me too much and not because they didn't love me enough.

Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
Book One: Chapter 7 Quotes

Part of me was desperate to wear those shoes. They were new. They had been sent to us by our parents. They were from El Otro Lado! But then I thought about my parents, and the fact that they didn't even know what size shoe I wore made me want to throw them in the trash.

If they don't even know something as basic as the size of our shoes and clothes, what else don't they know about us? And what don't we know about them?

The question was there, but neither Carlos, Mago, nor I was courageous enough to ponder on it for long. As the oldest, it was clearer to Mago, more than to Carlos and me, that the distance between us and our parents was destroying our relationship more than any of us could have imagined.

Page Number: 56-57
Explanation and Analysis:
Book One: Chapter 11 Quotes

Out of all of us, Mago was the only one who harbored any hope that Papi would not forsake us. My mother's broken promise—that she'd be gone only a year—had caused a rift between them, so Mago's loyalty to my father remained strong. He had been gone for so long that in his absence he had become bigger than life in Mago's eyes. But regardless of how much she had changed, I was too happy to have my mother back to cling to the hope of seeing my father again. And I was angry at him. I didn't have a single memory of him and Mami together—of all of us together—and I felt cheated out of the family I yearned to have. Why did he have to go and fall in love with someone else? I wanted to know. Hadn't Mami always done what he had asked of her? Hadn't it been enough that she had followed him to El Otro Lado and left us behind?

Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
Book One: Chapter 19 Quotes

"Go say hello to your father." Tía Emperatriz came up from behind us and pushed us toward him. I didn't want to go. All I wanted was to run away, run back to Abuelita Chinta's house, far away from him. I didn't want to see that look on his face. All those years staring at his photo, wishing that his eyes were not looking to the left but instead were looking at me. All those years wishing to be seen by him. And here he was, looking at me, but not really seeing me. He couldn't see past the tangled hair, the dirt on my face, my tattered clothes. He couldn't see the girl who had longed so much for this moment, to finally meet her father.

Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 1 Quotes

I wanted to make my father proud. It still bothered me—as it would for many years—that my father had not wanted to bring me at first, and because of that I had a desperate desire for him to one day say, "Chata, you've made me a proud father. I'm so glad I didn't leave you in Mexico and instead brought you here."

I felt as if I owed him something, as if there was a debt that needed to be repaid. The way I could pay it back was to make him proud of my accomplishments, because they would be his accomplishments, too. Even now there are times when I think back on that moment when I begged my father to bring me to this country and the knowledge that he could have said no still haunts me. What would my life have been like then? I know the answer all too well.

Related Characters: Reyna Grande Rodriguez (speaker), Papi / Natalio Grande
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 4 Quotes

Papi went back into his room with his beer, and while Mago helped me clean up in the bathroom, Mila made me scrambled eggs, even though I told her I wasn't hungry. Now I would have to eat the eggs because Papi would beat me for sure if I didn't eat Mila's food for the second time that night. As I showered, I cried and thought about my sweet grandmother. She would never have dumped a plate of food on my head. And I wouldn't have had to tell her why I couldn't eat the spaghetti. She would have known why right away. I thought about the Man Behind the Glass. He, too, wouldn't have dumped the spaghetti on my head because he was with me all those years, and he had listened to me tell him about my fears and my dreams. But the father in this house didn't know me. He didn't know me at all.

And I didn't know him.

Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 8 Quotes

Back then we hadn't known where in Los Angeles Tía María Félix lived, and even if we had known, we probably wouldn't have gone to visit Élida. We just didn't have that kind of relationship with our cousin. My father wasn't close to his sister, either, and he never talked about visiting Tía María Félix, and for years we knew nothing about her. It wasn’t until he was in stage four of his cancer that he and Tía María Félix were finally reunited. My aunt would visit him daily, and they would spend hours reminiscing about times gone by and lamenting their broken relationships with their children. While my siblings and I had been struggling to overcome the gap that was created between us and our father when he'd left us behind, Élida had been doing the same thing with her mother. And like us, they had also failed to repair their relationship.

Immigration took a toll on us all.

Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 11 Quotes

Papi was amazed. He asked me to play something. Mago rolled her eyes at me and left us alone. I took the sax from him and played the scale Mr. Adams had taught me, except I didn’t remember it that well. But Papi didn't criticize me for messing up. Instead he said, "You know, when I was in third grade, my teacher brought some drums to class and started to teach us how to play them. We couldn't take them home, but still, it was nice coming to school and having the chance to learn to play an instrument. I hoped to join the color guard when I got to sixth grade. But a few weeks later, when I turned nine, your grandfather said I was old enough to join him at the fields, and he pulled me out of school' I never got to play the drum again. And I've been working ever since."

Papi got up and headed to the refrigerator where he took out a Budweiser. Then he went into his room. I sat in the living room to practice my sax, but Mago and Carlos complained about the noise and sent me outside. I went to the yard and continued to practice, and I played with all my heart, for myself and for my papi, who never got another chance to play anything.

Related Symbols: Reyna’s Alto Sax
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 15 Quotes

When my father beat me, and in his drunken stupor called me a pendeja and an hija de la chingada, I held on to the vision of the future he had given me during his sober moments. I thought about that vision when the blows came, because the father who beat me, the one who preferred to stay home and drink rather than to attend my band concerts or parent-teacher conferences, wasn't the same father who told me that one day I would be somebody in this country. That much I knew.

Related Characters: Reyna Grande Rodriguez (speaker), Papi / Natalio Grande
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:

We understood what Papi must have gone through because we knew what Abuela Evila and Abuelo Augurio were like. But that didn't make us feel better. If Papi knew what it felt like to be abused by his parents, then shouldn't he understand how we felt? Shouldn't he try to be a better father? Also, it wasn't our fault that his own family had turned their backs on him, even going as far as stealing the house he worked so hard to build. So why take it out on us? Why take out all his frustrations and disappointments on us?

"I came back for you, didn't I?" he said to us sometimes when we would speak up.

Then we would shut up and lower our heads, and we would continue to take his beatings. Even the time he punched me in the nose so hard it broke, as I watched the drops of blood landing on my tennis shoe, I told myself that maybe he was right. We shouldn't expect anything better from him. He didn't forget us, after all. We were here because of him. I was in this country because of him. I begged him to bring me. I got what I wanted, after all. How could I complain now, simply because things weren't all that we had hoped for?

Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 19 Quotes

I didn't know why I was so angry at my sister. How could she just sever the ties that bind us to this place, to these childhood friends of ours who weren’t able to escape this poverty like we did? I was so angry at her for quitting college and ruining her chances for a successful life. Now I realized that we owed it to them, our cousins, our friends, to do something with our lives. If not for us, then for them, because they would never be able to. I understood so clearly now why Papi said there were so many people who would die to have the opportunities we had, who would kill to get their hands on a green card. Mago's and Carlos's refusal to see that angered me more than anything.

Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 21 Quotes

When [Papi] came home, I didn’t hide in my bedroom. Instead, I went out to the kitchen and said, "Tomorrow I'm going to Pasadena City College to enroll." I waited for him to say no. I was ready for a fight. Bur my father looked at me, and whatever he saw in my eyes made him keep quiet. I turned around, and as I headed back to my room, he started to talk.

"You know, Chata, when my father took me to the fields to work, my job was to guide the oxen in a straight line. My father gave me a rod and said that if the oxen didn't listen to me, to hit them as hard as I could. I was nine years old, Chata. Do you understand?"

I took a deep breath, unable to say anything. I wanted to say something. I was still too angry to forgive all that he had done to me, but I wanted to understand what he was trying to tell me. But too soon, he had turned away from me. Too soon, he was opening the refrigerator door, taking out a Budweiser, and I knew that the father who had spoken just a minute ago was gone.

Related Characters: Reyna Grande Rodriguez (speaker), Papi / Natalio Grande (speaker), Abuelo Augurio
Page Number: 298
Explanation and Analysis:
Book Two: Chapter 23 Quotes

Carlos and Mago were furious about what our father had done.

Carlos said, "I spent all that time helping him with the lawyer, defending him from Mila and her restraining orders, for what? So that he could just betray us like this?"

"I'm never speaking to him again," Mago said. "He used us. He just wanted us around because he was lonely and depressed, and now that he has her back he doesn’t need us!" Once again, we were orphans.

I thought about the border that separates the United States and Mexico. I wondered if during their crossing, both my father and mother had lost themselves in that no-man's-land. I wondered if my real parents were still there, caught between two worlds. I imagined them trying to make their way back to us. I truly hoped that one day they would.

Page Number: 315
Explanation and Analysis:
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Papi / Natalio Grande Character Timeline in The Distance Between Us

The timeline below shows where the character Papi / Natalio Grande appears in The Distance Between Us. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book One: Chapter 1
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...children round up their belongings, Reyna takes from a box a framed picture of her papi, insisting on taking it with her to her grandmother’s house, despite the fact that there... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...his own house for himself and his family. Having fared poorly in the United States, Papi has now sent for Mami to join him and hopefully double their income to fund... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Evila assures Mami that soon she and Papi will raise enough money to build their dream house, and she points out her daughter... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 4
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...she is going to have a baby. That night, Mago worries aloud that Mami and Papi are replacing them with a new child. Already, the three of them have been living... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 5
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...not work, and the months continue to go by with no sign that Mami and Papi will ever come back. (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...with a butcher from town, a distant relative. Reyna becomes emotional and longs for her Papi’s return more than ever—when it is her turn to become a señorita, she wants to... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 8
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
Four years after Reyna’s Papi left for the United States—and two years after her Mami left, too—construction at last begins... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 10
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...children gather their things and say goodbye to Emperatriz—Reyna almost forgets her framed photo of Papi, and runs inside to retrieve “the Man Behind the Glass.” (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...the women cook, Reyna overhears their conversation: her mother is telling Abuelita Chinta something about Papi and another woman. Mami proclaims that she hates her husband, and will never see him... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 11
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...mother has come back, they learn of their father’s infidelity. Mami tells the children that Papi is “washing his hands of [them]” while he tends his “new woman.” Mago continues harboring... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...earn some money. One night, Mami points out the beautiful, lavish pool, and remarks that Papi helped to build it. She recalls swimming in the pool once it was done, on... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
...her mother is fleeing from the glittering pool and the memories associated with it. Though Papi had held onto her there, he had let her go “in a place just as... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 12
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Reyna fills in the blanks as to what happened between her Mami and Papi in El Otro Lado. Two and a half years after arriving there, Papi told Mami... (full context)
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
When Papi tossed Mami out of the apartment, he did not allow her to take Betty, and... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 14
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
...them sit around drinking their cocoa, and Mago regales her younger siblings with stories of Papi—stories that only she, the eldest, can remember. When Abuelita Chinta arrives home, Reyna asks her... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...tell her a story. Mago tells her about the three little pigs, and Reyna imagines Papi’s dream house as the brick-and-mortar house of the third little pig, standing sturdy amongst all... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...stares horrified at the spectacle, she is paralyzed by fear—she worries that by the time Papi finishes his dream house, there may be no one left to keep safe. She worries... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 18
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
The next day, Mago writes a sorrowful letter to Papi, using lyrics from a popular song to express how badly she longs for his return.... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 19
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
...ten, her cousin comes to pay her and her siblings a visit, informing them that Papi is going to call on the phone at Abuela Evila’s in an hour. Reyna and... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
Papi hugs Mago and Carlos and then beckons Reyna to him, too. He hugs her briefly... (full context)
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Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Reyna, Carlos, and Mago spend the night at Evila’s house. In the morning, Papi shaves Carlos’s hair to get rid of his lice, and takes Mago and Reyna to... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
That evening, when Papi reaches into his suitcase, a bunch of scorpions come out and nearly bite him. Frightened,... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
The next day, Papi sits Reyna, Carlos, and Mago down and announces that though he’s leaving in a few... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...going to have in the United States. After school, at Abuela Evila’s house, Reyna begs Papi to take her, saying she’ll die of shame if her classmates find out she lied.... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...need to tell their father that he can’t have Betty. When Mago delivers Mami’s message, Papi is furious, claiming that Mami has robbed him of his youngest child. Mago volunteers to... (full context)
Book One: Chapter 20
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
...the border are failures. The first time, she is waylaid by a toothache, and as Papi carries her through the desert, they are stopped by the border patrol and sent back... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
That night, at sunset, Papi wakes the children up from their naps and they take a bus to meet the... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
From Chula Vista, right on the other side of the border, Papi, Reyna, Carlos, and Mago pile into a truck that will take them to Los Angeles.... (full context)
Book Two: Prologue
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Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
In 2010, twenty-five years after Reyna’s new life in the United States began, Papi is diagnosed with liver cancer. Reyna and her siblings have little communication with him, but... (full context)
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On a day in early September of 2011, Papi’s doctor tells Mago, Reyna, and Carlos that it is time to let their father go.... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 1
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...speak a word of English, and are worried about how they will navigate school, but Papi is less concerned about the language barrier than he is about the children disclosing that... (full context)
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Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
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...pull out the sofa bed in the living room where they have been sleeping (as Papi and Mila’s apartment has only one bedroom) and they huddle together, listening to the sounds... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...the day when she has not memorized it to perfection. She doesn’t want to disappoint Papi—she feels a desperate desire to please him, and to prove to him that he was... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 2
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...she is on board. The morning of Halloween, Reyna is awakened by the sound of Papi yelling. He is standing over their sofa bed, screaming at Carlos for having had an... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...for trick-or-treating. Reyna insists she doesn’t want to go. Mila tells Reyna that though what Papi did earlier that morning was wrong, he simply needs some time to readjust to being... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 3
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 4
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...parasites back in Iguala. Reyna refuses to eat Mila’s spaghetti, insisting she isn’t hungry. When Papi calls her ungrateful, Mago tries to explain that the spaghetti reminds Reyna of the worms—Papi... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Papi retreats to his room with his beer, and while Mago helps Reyna clean up in... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 5
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
...during a commercial break. The siblings are concerned because they have no money to buy Papi a present, and Mago decides to call the number on the screen and ask Santa... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...Claus” have arrived, and Mago, Carlos, and Reyna are still nervous about finding something for Papi. They decide to shoplift from the corner store—Mago volunteers to distract the clerk while Reyna... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
The next day, on Christmas morning, the children present Papi and Mila with their “gifts,” and Mila and Papi present them with theirs. Reyna gets... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Two weeks later, Papi calls the children into the kitchen one evening as he and Mila are going through... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 6
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Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
When Papi gets home, he is furious with Mago for missing school. He takes his belt off... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 7
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...in El Otro Lado, there are lice. Reyna walks home, unsure of what to tell Papi. She spends the afternoon crying, afraid that Papi is going to send her back to... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
When Papi gets home and Reyna shows him the note, though, he is calm and understanding. He... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 8
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Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Mago has started getting crushes on boys, but Papi has made his rules very clear: no boyfriends are allowed. Mago sublimates her frustration into... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 9
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...one of three lucky winners. Reyna is excited to finally have the chance to make Papi proud. Though Reyna was a proficient reader in Mexico, she is behind in her reading... (full context)
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
...is full of the reject books. Reyna is overcome with sadness, and then fear that Papi will be disappointed in her. One day, she promises herself, she will write a book... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 10
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
...May of 1986, a year after Reyna and her siblings first arrived in the U.S., Papi falls off a ladder at work and injures himself. He has to take several days... (full context)
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Carlos wants to go see Mami, but Papi is outraged that he would want to see a woman who has been here for... (full context)
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As the weeks go by, Reyna and Carlos continue begging Papi to let them see Mami. The more they ask, though, the more he withdraws from... (full context)
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Once Tia Güera and Betty arrive in the U.S., Reyna and Carlos at last convince Papi to let them go see Mami. They tell him that it’s not Mami they want... (full context)
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Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Reyna and her siblings visit Mami every Sunday, though this displeases Papi. He only allows them to go because of Betty. Mami frequently takes the children out... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Mago, Reyna, and Carlos slowly get used to their new “double lives.” Papi and Mami refuse to be in the same room together, and won’t even reconcile to... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 11
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Papi constantly tries to impress upon Reyna, Mago, and Carlos how important an education is. He... (full context)
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Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
...1987, Mago becomes the first person in the family to go to high school. When Papi takes her to buy new clothes to celebrate, Reyna becomes jealous and upset that Mago... (full context)
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Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
When Reyna brings the saxophone home and shows Papi, he is amazed and asks her to play. She squeaks out a few meager notes,... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 12
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Papi doesn’t allow Reyna and her siblings to go out and play in the neighborhood—there is... (full context)
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The day after the shooting, Papi decides to go to adult school and take English language classes. He vows that once... (full context)
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A few weeks after he starts going to school, though, Papi gets some terrible news. He learns that Tía Emperatriz has stolen his dream house after... (full context)
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Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
Two weeks later, Reyna and her siblings come home from school to find Papi sitting at the kitchen table. He looks pale, and his eyes are puffy and red.... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 13
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
...book competition in elementary school, Reyna enters hoping that, if she wins, she’ll finally make Papi proud. She writes a short story about identical twins who are separated as young girls... (full context)
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
...Reyna is vaguely disappointed, but still proud of herself. She brings her prize home to Papi, but when she shows him what she’s won, he is unenthusiastic. He doesn’t see the... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 14
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When Reyna gets home, Papi is angry at her for being out late. Reyna lies and says she needed to... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 15
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...as special. Still, she holds onto her dreams of the future—dreams given to her by Papi—even in her worst moments, like when Papi beats her in a drunken stupor. Despite all... (full context)
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Papi yells at Carlos for going to the park in the first place, and then cracks... (full context)
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In the morning, Papi still refuses to take Carlos to the hospital. Reyna and Mago beg Mila to take... (full context)
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...later that evening with his leg in a cast, having broken two major bones. After Papi goes to bed, Mila tells the children that because their father grew up in an... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 16
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After Carlos’s accident, things change between Mago and Papi. Where Mago once brought home her checks at the end of the week and proudly... (full context)
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...banquet hall. Reyna is excited to live her dream of dancing the traditional waltz with Papi—but during the dance, he is visibly drunk and smells of beer. Reyna is filled with... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 17
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...from the sax to the bells—a change she’s very sad about. Despite her big accomplishment, Papi has offered Reyna no praise or congratulations—even though she’ll soon be performing in the 1992... (full context)
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...then blow her off. Reyna hasn’t yet realized just how deeply her abusive relationship with Papi has affected her relationships with boys at school. (full context)
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...Reyna wants to say that it’s she who is worthless. Why else, she wonders, would Papi and the guys at school all treat her so badly? (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 18
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A month after prom, Papi comes home one day with an old yellow Datsun he has purchased for Carlos. Carlos... (full context)
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...degree in criminal justice—he wants to settle down with Griselda and marry her. Carlos asks Papi to come with him to Griselda’s family’s house to ask for her hand in marriage,... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 19
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A few weeks later, Reyna joins Mago, Mami, Leonardo, and Betty on their trip. Papi is furious that she is missing a week in school, and Reyna too feels awful... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 20
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...time left. Reyna begs Mago to stay, but Mago insists she can’t stand it in Papi’s house any longer. (full context)
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When Mago tells Papi that she’s planning on moving out, he threatens her with the proclamation that he will... (full context)
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...that Mago hasn’t already left. Mago comes home every evening, though, and though she and Papi don’t speak for a couple weeks, soon even things between them have gone back to... (full context)
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...bedroom—Mago has left without telling anybody, even Reyna. Reyna starts her chores, crying, and when Papi comes home and she tells him that Mago has gone, he flies into a rage.... (full context)
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Reyna graduates from school, but Papi will not allow her to send in her paperwork to UC Irvine. Because she’s underage,... (full context)
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Papi’s drinking worsens and worsens over the summer, and Reyna begins selling his beer cans at... (full context)
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...up. Reyna calls through her father’s bedroom door that she’s going out with Mago, but Papi forbids her from going. Reyna says that she’s going anyway, and starts heading out of... (full context)
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Reyna asks Mila why Mago didn’t come to help her. Papi insists that Mago doesn’t care about Reyna and stomps off to his room. Mila helps... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 21
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...that in having unprotected premarital sex with him, she is running the risk of enraging Papi—and she wants a favor from him. One night, when Papi gets home, Reyna doesn’t hide... (full context)
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Papi explains that when his father took him out of school and put him in the... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 22
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...Reyna longs to tell Dr. Savas the truth about what’s going on at home: that Papi is having an affair, and that he and Mila are fighting more—and that the fights... (full context)
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After one such horrible fight, Mila goes to the hospital because Papi pushed her down the stairs and onto some gardening tools. Reyna takes Betty, who is... (full context)
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...the first time, the two women discuss frankly the beatings they have both suffered at Papi’s hands. Reyna goes back over to Papi’s the next day and collects her belongings. After... (full context)
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...and makes Reyna feel welcome. Reyna hears word that Mila has dropped all charges against Papi and has moved back into the apartment, but Reyna knows she can’t return—things will only... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 23
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A year and a half later, Mila finally decides to leave Papi. Reyna is surprised. Even more shocking is the fact that Mila withdraws a large sum... (full context)
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...up north with a free conscience and decides that spending the summer taking care of Papi will allow her to have a fresh start in the fall. When Reyna arrives at... (full context)
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As Reyna passes the summer with Papi, she finds he has changed. She often brings her newest boyfriend Edwin over to help... (full context)
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Papi attends a court hearing to resolve his legal troubles with Mila. When an argument erupts... (full context)
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As the weeks go by, Reyna is surprised by the continuing changes in Papi. He never criticizes or yells at Reyna, and he no longer hits her. He actually... (full context)
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One night, however, while eating dinner, Papi announces that he has been talking with Mila, and the two of them are going... (full context)
Book Two: Chapter 24
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...drive her up to UC Santa Cruz. On the drive, Edwin tells her how proud Papi is of her, but Reyna doesn’t say anything. Edwin encourages Reyna to try to understand... (full context)
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...on her dreams. She closes her eyes, remembering her first trip to the beach with Papi, and how tightly he held her hand as they walked into the ocean together. In... (full context)
Book Two: Epilogue
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After Papi is diagnosed with liver cancer in 2010, Reyna finds herself having to once again reframe... (full context)
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Towards the end of Papi’s struggle, Reyna knows that what he truly needs is her forgiveness. The day before her... (full context)