The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us


Reyna Grande

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Themes and Colors
Physical and Emotional Distances Theme Icon
Abandonment and Betrayal Theme Icon
Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Recognition Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Distance Between Us, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Physical and Emotional Distances

One of the central themes in Reyna Grande’s memoir The Distance Between Us is that of the distances both physical and emotional that separate people. As Grande relays the story of her difficult and fractured youth in Mexico and then in Los Angeles, she ultimately argues that even once seemingly insurmountable physical differences are breached and crossed, the emotional distances that have cropped up in their wake can sometimes prove impossible to bridge.


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Abandonment and Betrayal

One of the most profound themes in Reyna Grande’s memoir is that of abandonment and betrayal. In painstaking detail, Grande recounts the feelings of isolation, betrayal, sadness, anger, and longing she and her siblings felt after their father—and, later, their mother—abandoned them for “El Otro Lado” as they pursued work in the United States. Over the course of the book, Grande focuses on the deep rifts sudden desertion or disappearance creates within families, ultimately…

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Poverty, Abuse, and Trauma

Cycles of poverty, abuse, and trauma permeate the narrative of The Distance Between Us. From Abuela Evila’s cruel disregard of her grandchildren’s well-being to Mami’s frequent abandonments to Papi’s alcohol-fueled rages and beatings, Reyna and her siblings Mago and Carlos are subjected to an endless stream of neglect and abuse, the emotional and logistical aspects of which are defined by the extreme poverty they live in in Mexico and the urban…

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Forgiveness and Recognition

Though Reyna’s narration throughout The Distance Between Us is rife with pain, confusion, and indeed resentment, it ultimately ends on a note of forgiveness. When Reyna finally forgives her dying Papi for all the pain he has inflicted on her and her siblings, it is because she recognizes that without him, she would not be who she is; as she holds his hand in hers and sees that they are the same shape, she…

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