Villanova University Welcomes Reyna Grande, Author of Its One Book Villanova Program Selection, “The Distance Between Us: A Memoir”

Grande’s Critically Acclaimed Novel Examines Timely Immigration Issues

Villanova’s One Book author visit Sept. 10 features events open to the public

Reyna Grande

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Home, for most, is a refuge, a familiar place, the focal point of family and friendship. But, for millions of immigrants fleeing lives of poverty, violence and oppression, home is an elusive concept – even when sanctuary has been found. Reyna Grande, whose book, The Distance Between Us: A Memoir, is this year’s One Book Villanova selection, will visit the University Sept. 10 to talk about her life journey from abject poverty in Mexico to a hard won home in the United States.

The author’s visit, which coincides with the opening of the University’s annual St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration – an event which honors the University’s patron saint known for his great charity to the poor and marginalized – will begin with a book signing from 4:40-5:30 p.m. at Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers Corner. A One Book Community Dinner honoring the author, and featuring cuisine inspired by the book, will be held from 6-7 p.m. in Dougherty Hall. A limited number of tickets are available online at villanovatix for $10. The culminating event, Grande’s presentation, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Villanova Room in the Connelly Center. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are not required. All One Book author visit events are open to the public.

The Distance Between Us: A Memoir chronicles Grande’s compelling experience, from a childhood of deprivation and separation from her parents after they made the dangerous crossing across the Mexican border to “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side), to the difficulties she faced in acclimating to American society as an undocumented immigrant.

“The One Book Committee selected this wonderful story of family, dreams, disappointments and hope because often we miss the personal stories deeply embedded within our political discussions of immigration,” said Teresa Nance, Associate Vice Provost of Diversity and Inclusion and One Book Villanova committee co-chair. “At Villanova we are sensitive and appreciative of the new immigrant story because it is an integral part of our history and our educational commitment.”

She added, “No story of any nation is complete without understanding the story of those relegated to the margins of our society.  Reyna Grande does more than just share her story – she tells us a missing part of ours.  We are excited to welcome her to campus.”    

Grande’s appearance as featured speaker of The St. Thomas of Villanova Lecture kicks off the University’s 10th annual St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration, which includes a full slate of events throughout the weekend – the capstone of which is the University’s St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service  on Sept. 12.

One Book Villanova is a distinctive educational program that engages all segments of the campus community – students, staff and faculty – in activities presented throughout the academic year which explore dominant themes presented in a selected book.

Discussion groups, public readings and special events will enliven and extend the campus community’s examination of The Distance Between Us: A Memoir throughout the academic year.

Details about the author’s visit, the One Book Villanova program, and additional future events open to the public are available on the University’s One Book Villanova Website.

Other selections featured since the One Book Villanova program began in 2005 include The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseni; Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy Tyson; Left To Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza; The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls; Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji; The Unforgiving Minute by Craig Mullaney; Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford; Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan; Good Kings, Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum; and The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.