Stepping out of the Shadows

Essay by kittikatCollege, UndergraduateA-, October 2014

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Stepping Out of the Shadows

The Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends Project reported last year that there were a staggering 6.05 million undocumented Mexican immigrants in the United States of America: a number I find extremely hard to encompass . What comes to my mind are families constantly living in fear of being discovered and deported, not being able to get health support, not being able to visit their relatives back home in Mexico, and children who will have a lot of their dreams crushed once they come to the realization that they are effectively invisible to American society. In her heartwarming and heartbreaking book The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grande shares with us her story about growing up not only torn between two parents, but also two countries, her old and new home, after illegally running across the border with her father and siblings at the age of nine.

With the DREAM Act being widely discussed, I wish more people would pick up her book and see the human face of the illegal immigrants and listen to their stories before passing judgement. The Distance Between Us is an engaging counterstory about these undocumented Mexican immigrants. It also serves as a wonderful example of change writing, as defined by psychologist and author Mary Pipher in her book Writing to Change the World as "writing to connect" (p. 8).

Pipher's idea of change writing is that the author builds a connection that leads to the reader's awareness of an issue growing, and even to a change in the reader's opinion (p. 8). After researching how her book was received, I can confirm that Reyne Grande certainly accomplished this. Many readers recognized themselves in her story, were deeply moved and given an insight into a life they didn't know much about.