The Keker First Year Common Read program is an opportunity for new students to begin their academic path prior to starting college in the fall by reading a book intentionally selected by members of the UNC Greensboro campus community. With the help of faculty and staff from across campus, the book is integrated throughout the students’ curricular and co-curricular learning experiences.

Keker First Year Common Read Program Learning Objectives:

  • Facilitate global connections within the UNC Greensboro community through intentional programming with campus partners and academic exploration of intercultural themes in the classroom setting.
  • Foster community development within the first year student through a common read experience, the author visit to campus, and a variety of opportunities for shared learning.
  • Share inspiring stories and author insight with the first year students, and engage with these narratives through critical reflection and service learning.

About the Book: The Distance Between Us

From award-winning author, Reyna Grande, an eye-opening memoir about life before and after illegally immigrating from Mexico to the United States.

Born in Mexico and raised by her grandparents after her parents left to find work in the U.S. at nine years old, Reyna enters the United States as an undocumented immigrant to live with her father. Filled with hope, she quickly realizes that life in America is far from perfect. Her father isn’t the man she dreamed about all those years in Mexico. His big dreams for his children are what gets them across the border, but his alcoholism and rage undermine all his hard work and good intentions.

Reyna finds solace from a violent home in books and writing, inspired by the Latina voices she reads. After an explosive altercation, Reyna breaks away, going on to become the first person in her family to obtain a higher education, earning a college degree and then an M.F.A. in Creative Writing.

What Reviewers Are Saying

“In this poignant memoir about her childhood in Mexico, Reyna Grande skillfully depicts another side of the immigrant experience – the hardships and heartbreaks of the children who are left behind. Through her brutally honest firsthand account of growing up in Mexico without her parents, Grande sheds light on the often overlooked consequence of immigration.” – Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize winner, author of Enrique’s Journey

“What makes Grande’s beautiful memoir all the more extraordinary is that, through this hero’s journey, she speaks for millions of immigrants whose voices have gone unheard.” Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

“Grande consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence.” – Kirkus Reviews

About the Author: Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande

Reyna Grande is an award-winning novelist and memoirist. She has received an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award, and the International Latino Book Award. In 2012, she was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Awards, and in 2015 she was honored with a Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. Her works have been published internationally in Norway, South Korea, and Mexico.

Her novels, Across a Hundred Mountains, (Atria, 2006) and Dancing with Butterflies, (Washington Square Press, 2009) were published to critical acclaim. In her latest book, The Distance Between Us, ( Atria, 2012) Reyna writes about her life before and after illegally immigrating from Mexico to the United States. An inspirational coming-of-age story about the pursuit of a better life, The Distance Between Us is now available as a young readers edition from Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Division–Aladdin. It has received a 2017 Honor Book Award for the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature and a 2016 Eureka! Honor Awards from the California Reading Association, and an International Literacy Association Children’s Book Award 2017.
Reyna is a member of the Macondo Writer’s Workshop founded by Sandra Cisneros. Currently, Reyna teaches creative writing, travels across the country and abroad to give presentations about her books, and is at work on the sequel to The Distance Between Us.

Born in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, Reyna was two years old when her father left for the U.S. to find work. Her mother followed her father north two years later, leaving Reyna and her siblings behind in Mexico. In 1985, when Reyna was going on ten, she left Iguala to make her own journey north. She entered the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant, and later went on to become the first person in her family to graduate from college.

After attending Pasadena City College for two years, Reyna obtained a B.A. in creative writing and film & video from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She later received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Antioch University. Now, in addition to being a published author, she is also a sought-after motivational speaker at high schools, colleges, and universities across the nation.

“Reyna Grande is a fierce, smart, shimmering light of a writer with an important story to tell.” —Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

“We loved Reyna. She was one of the best One Book authors we’ve had. So open and honest.” —Traci HalesVass, Farmington’s One Book One Community
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Are you interested in getting involved with the Keker First Year Common Read Program?

Please contact Emily Wiersma, Associate Director of New Student Transitions and First Year Experience, at