Award-winning author Reyna Grande visits CCC

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

By Brenda Maldonado, Staff writer

It’s undocumented student week at Contra Costa College and for its Equity Speaker series, the college had award-winning author Reyna Grande speak on campus on Monday, Oct. 17. She talked about the importance of writing being a tool for social change and to advocate for social justice, and about her journey into using writing as a way to elevate immigrants’ voices by sharing her story.

Grande is from a small town in Mexico called Iguala, where she grew up in poverty. Her parents migrated to the U.S. and left Grande and her siblings back at home with their grandmother. At the age 9, she traveled to the U.S. to follow her parents, where she took her own path and became the first in her family to attend and graduate college. She attended community college at Pasadena City College, where she transferred to UC Santa Cruz to obtain her bachelor of arts degree in creative writing. 

Some of her best selling novels include Across a Hundred Mountains, A Dream Called Home, and her memoir The Distance Between Us. All of her novels are about her experience of immigrating to the U.S., she talks about language trauma, family separation, and the price of the American Dream. According to online reviews, all of these novels have made a great impact on people who share a similar story as the characters and have been inspired by her story.

She revealed at the event that she started writing as a form of dealing with her trauma and never thought it would be used as a tool for social change and social justice.  

“I was 13 and I was mostly writing for me, out of my own need for self-expression, out of my own need to try to do something with my trauma, and I discovered that writing was a way for me to transform my trauma instead of letting it transform me,” Grande said. 

She then explained how it took her time to realize that writing is a tool for social change and advocate for social justice, and that everytime she sits down to write a book, she thinks about how it can contribute to change the world.

Her first novel Across a Hundred Mountains was her senior project at UC Santa Cruz. It was inspired by her own story of when her father left her siblings behind to come to the U.S and how she worried that her father would not come back for them. 

“In Across a Hundred Mountains, I wrote about my greatest fear as a child which was that my father might never come back for me and I realized that I needed to write that story because that question was really haunting me,” Grande revealed. 

This novel has the potential to resonate with a lot of young kids who live in poverty in Mexico and their parents leave to the U.S to work hard to provide for them back at home.

Kimberly Rogers, the President of CCC is herself apparently a fan of Reyna Grande’s work. 

“Kim Rogers, when I got your email it just really warmed my heart because I know that you’ve been a supporter of my work for a while, and to hear how you continue to share my book everywhere you go,” Grande said at the event. 

She later talked about her book The Distance Between Us turning 10 years of being published and is releasing a new cover for the book in celebration of a decade of being out. 

Readers can be on the lookout for that, but in the meantime you can check out her books at a nearby library or bookstore. The Contra Costa College bookstore carries her memoir The Distance Between Us.