Acclaimed Author Visits


Piotr Morawiec, News Editor

Over a two-day time period, Reyna Grande, the author of the DIstance Between Us, participated in a variety of events as part of Leyden’s inaugural One Book, One Leyden event.

She gave an inspiring speech followed with a public Q&A at an all-school assembly. After the assembly Grande attended a private Q&A and book signing exclusively with to Ms. Johanna Heppeler and Ms. Amy Stolarsky’s combined classes. She was also the guest of honor at lunches featuring ELL students on Thursday and students who had already read her book on the second day. She also spoke on Thursday evening to adults from the community.

During the assembly, Grande focused on the idea of “dreams.”

“Mexico is the place where you live with a lot of broken dreams” Grande said, “We went to school barefoot, we had tapeworms […] We use to call my grandma evil, [..] because she use to take the money that was sent from my parents in america, and instead of using it to pay for our shoes and books and food, she used it elsewhere.”

She described her past and her life before America, saying, “ “It was important for me to hold on to hope, and what gave me hope was my dreams.

“Just because we are undocumented doesn’t mean that we can’t dream,” Grande reminisced about what her dad told her.

Her story really affected a lot of students. One student, Jazmin Yasiris Perez said, “I thought it was very enlightening and it helped a lot of people understand how to deal with their problems. It was very interesting to hear what other people go through that we don’t have too.”

Another student, Klaudia Skladanowski said, “I really enjoyed her story and how much she struggled, and it shows how strong people can really be and [that]people can really live through tough times”
In the private session, students were paired up into groups and had thought of questions beforehand. They chose the best question out of their group, and Mrs. Grande answered them. Since she had more time, she went into detail and answered the questions fully.

Ms. Stolarsky, whose English I Honors students were working with Ms. Heppeler’s APUSH students, said, “I like this opportunity because it is a rare chance for students to meet and say thank you to the authors who inspire them.”
West media center specialist, Ms. Janine Asmusm, chaired the committee that organized this event in it first year. She said, “I really like this project because it is not meant to teach about the book, but rather celebrate it.”
Students looking to continue the celebration should speak with a librarian, their English teacher, or friends who have a copy of The Distance Between Us.