I’m working on my #ReadAfrica2018 reading project, but had to take a break for Reyna Grande’s A Dream Called Home - and I’m so glad I did! Although now I feel like I have opened a new door to a new reading challenge as she mentions so many writers and poets that I know I need to read! I have taken their names down and will keep it on the back burner for next year. Also, quite fittingly, it’s Hispanic Heritage Month here in the US, so this was a brilliantly timed memoir, both in terms of Reyna being a writer born in Mexico, and also an immigrant in the US.
A Dream Called Home is Reyna’s story of fighting for her dreams, despite her background, despite the setbacks and roadblocks, and despite the clichés and boxes people tend to stuff one another in here in the US (although that definitely doesn’t just happen here). She wrote about her story as a young Mexican girl crossing the border into the US in her memoir The Distance Between Us, and A Dream Called Home is the story of becoming an adult in a world where she never really feels at home. Each book can be read alone though.
Reyna’s parents left her and her siblings with their grandmothers in Iguala, Mexico, when they were children, and crossed the border to the US. Iguala, at the time, and most likely still today, was extremely poor, and opportunities were few and far between. Reyna’s father came back to collect them when Reyna was about 9 and they made the difficult crossing together three times (the first two times they were sent back). That itself amazes me - the crossing is so hard for an adult, I can’t even imagine how tough it would have been on a young child. Her strength and perseverance have always been there…
Anyway, in A Dream Called Home Reyna starts with her years at university, and moves on to telling the stories of how she became a teacher, a single mother, and how she continued to push herself to write and to be published. I don’t think I can express how inspiring this book was to me, and how there were some areas that I related to (but more that my partner relates to, our own stories and immigration stories meet and differ in many places). I will be buying a copy of this book for my children, so that when they are older they will understand some of the choices their parents had to make, and also know that the world is theirs, and their voices have as much weight as other voices.
Reyna’s recollections are full of many profound statements that hit me hard: that feeling of not belonging anywhere anymore, a double identity that doesn’t fit in here or there. I still carry that with me wherever I go. Reyna has inspired me to keep pushing with my own stories and my own writing, and inspired me to keep reading and talking about the stories that no one wants to talk about.
“As with the moon, there is the face that we immigrants show to the world, but our second face is the one we keep hidden in darkness so that no one can see us weeping.”
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!