CORRECTION: A previous version of this story was unclear in regards to the genre of Grande's third book, "The Distance Between Us." The book is a memoir. The story has been updated to reflect this change.
Reyna Grande shared her story of the many physical and metaphorical borders she has crossed in her life — including the US/Mexico border.
Grande, an award winning memoirist and international novelist, visited UNC Thursday to give a keynote lecture, titled “Crossing Borders” in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Grande grew up in poverty stricken Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. Her parents illegally crossed the US-Mexican border without her before she was five-years-old.
“My childhood was defined by the absence of my parents,” Grande said.
At nine-years-old, Grande crossed the border with the help of a smuggler. She was caught twice, but finally made it to Los Angeles, California, on her third attempt.
Grande said the absence of her parents prompted her need to cross the border.
“If I don’t cross, if I don’t succeed, I’ll never see my father,” Grande said.
Even though Grande believed her border-crossing days were over, she faced a new set of borders when she was in school in Los Angeles. She went to a school that didn’t have immigrant accommodations or any English as a Second Language classes, but was 50 percent Latino.