Author Reyna Grande on identity, experience, and community


Image courtesy of Andrea Guerra

Award winning author Reyna Grande spoke to Mrs. Guerra’s class in Room A165 during her visit at Segerstrom.

Maxwell Reed, Staff Writer

On March 21, 2023, author Reyna Grande visited Segerstrom to talk with 9th-grade students about her book, The Distance Between Us. This book is included in the 9th grade Ethnic Studies curriculum offered this year for the first time at Segerstrom. Grande writes about her experiences, as a child growing up both in Mexico and as an immigrant in the United States, and describes all of the trials and tribulations that come with that life.

Grande spoke to 9th-grade students in the theater and allowed them to ask her questions about her experiences and the book itself. She also shared advice to students and aspiring writers. Grande spoke candidly with students about the trauma she had to cope with as a child.

Later, The Jag Journal was able to secure an interview with Grande in the Segerstrom Library during lunch. When asked if she would recommend people use something like writing to cope with their trauma, she replied that it would be a good idea for everybody to try.

“Oh yeah, I recommend everybody does it. Not just writing but any form of self-expression is good, a healthy form of self-expression. Writing has been clinically proven to heal people, not just psychologically but also physically. When you’re okay up here, you’re okay in the rest of your body.”

When asked about a person finding their form of self-expression, Grande suggested mainly that people should just try things out, and by trial and error, find what would be good for them.

“Start signing up for things! For example, here at school; start looking at electives or student clubs, looking in the community, or finding places you can volunteer. Try to find a group that you can join or an activity that you can do.”

Grande’s book touched upon many topics including identity, culture, and how to deal with having to figure out life on your own. When asked about how important it is to create community, she made it clear about needing to put yourself out there to create and make a community for yourself.

“I think it’s important to create a community. Sometimes we’re lucky and we have a really great family and that’s our support system. And other times, we don’t have that, so you have to create your own support system. You have to be proactive in creating community, making friends, reaching out to older people, and trying to get mentors. That’s really important. Every successful person you see didn’t get there by themselves and it’s important to remember that.”