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SteppingOutofTheShadows ThePewResearchCenterHispanicTrendsProjectreportedlastyearthattherewereastaggering6.05 millionundocumentedMexicanimmigrantintheUnitedStatesofAmerica.AnumberIfindextremely hardtoimagine.Whatcomestomymindarefamiliesconstantlylivinginfearofbeingdiscoveredand deported,notbeingabletogethealthsupport,notbeingabletovisittheirrelativesbackhomein Mexicoandchildren,whowillhavealotoftheirdreamscrushedoncetheycometotherealisationthat theyaretoanextendinvisibletosociety.InherheartwarmingandheartbreakingbookTheDistance BetweenUsReynaGrandeshareswithusherstoryaboutgrowingupnotonlytornbetweenher parents,butalsotwocountries,heroldandnewhome,afterillegallyrunningacrosstheborderwithher fatherandsiblingsandtheageofnine.WiththeDREAMActbeingwidelydiscussedIwishmore peoplewouldpickupherbookandseethehumansideoftheillegalimmigrantsandlistentotheir storiesinsteadofjudgingthemwaytooeasily.ReynaGrandesmemoirTheDistanceBetweenUsisa counterstorybecausesheistellingthestoryofundocumentedMexicanimmigrants,whichisnotoften beingtold,andshowsherreadersasidetothemthatisverydifferentthestereotypesinmostpeoples heads.

Additionallyherbookisawonderfulexampleofchangewriting,becauseGrandeconnectstoher readersonanemotionallevelthroughherpersonalstory. PsychologistandauthorMaryPipherdefineschangewritinginherbookWritingtoChange theWorldaswritingtoconnect(p.8).Pipherideaofchangewritingisthattheauthorbuildsa connection,whichcanleadtothereadersawarenessofanissuegrowingandeventoachangeinthe readersopinion(p.8).Afterresearchinghowherbookwasreceived,IcanconfirmthatReyneGrande certainlyaccomplishedthis.Manyreadersrecognizedthemselvesinherstory,weredeeplymovedand gotanewinsightviewofalifetheydidntknowmuchabout.InaninterviewwiththeLosAngeles

ReviewofBooksmagazineGrandetalkedaboutherintentionsandmotivationbehindthebookand explainedthatoneofhergoalswastorevealmoreaboutthelifeofimmigrantsandthatitisinfactavery complicatedsituationformanyfamiliestobeinfortunateattimes,butcertainlynotalwayseasyand withalotofsacrificestobemadeinhopeforabetterlife.MaryPipherbelievesthatwriterscanmove andaffecttheirreadersthebestisbywritingabouttheirownexperiencesandaboutwhatmadethem writeinthefirstplace(p.103).GrandehasdonewhatPipherurgesustodoshewroteaboutherown lifeandsharesthemostimportantstoriesthatmadehertowhosheistoday(Pipher,p64/LosAngeles ReviewofBooksmagazine).Whenweshareourpersonalstory,weareusuallyautomaticallythemost engagingandhonestandweinvitethereadertostrugglewithus(p.23).Grandeshareswiththereader theheartbreakingmomentswhenherparentsleaveherandhersiblingsbehind,howsheoverandover againwasrejoinedwithhermotheronlytobeleftbehindagainandhowshewasalwaysremembering herfatherasthemanbehindtheglass(p.58).Howcansomeonenotbemovedbythestrugglesthis littlegirlgoesthrough? Notonlydoeschangemovethereaderthough,italsoencouragestoquestionandrethinkold believes.Bygivingissuesafacebytalkingaboutrealexperiencespeoplehad,itisevenpossibleto changesomeonesopinionandviewofthings(p.102).ItismomentslikelittleReynatryingtoconvince herselfthatherparentsleftoutofloveratherthanbecausetheydidntlove(p.22),thedaywhenTiois tryingtostealakissofherandlittleReynalaterwitnessinghimmasturbating(p.98)orthetimeswhen herownfatherbeatsherup(p.178)thatdeeplymovethereaders.Iwasthinkingaboutmyownfather andwasgratefulforourcloseandlovingrelationshipwemanagedtodevelopdespitemenotgrowing upnearhim.IbelieveitismomentslikethosethatcanmoveGrandesreaderstoopentheirheartsand forexamplelookattheillegalimmigrantsinthiscountrywithdifferenteyesandtrytounderstandtheir

actions. Grandesmemoiristhereforenotonlyanexampleforchangewritingbutalsoforpowerful counterstorytelling.BeforeIexplainwhyTheDistanceBetweenUsqualifiesasacounterstory,Ifindit importanttobrieflyexplaintheoppositeofacounterstory,whichisaMajoritarianstory.Majoritarian storiesarestoriesthatarebelievedinbyamajorityofpeopleandcanbeaboutrace,gender,religionor anyothersubjectwherethereisaminoritypresentorwherewecandiscoverstoriesnotmanytalk about.SolorzanoandYossostatethat"Majoritarianstoriesarenotoftenquestionedbecausepeopledo notseethemasstoriesbutas"natural"partsofeverydaylife"(p.29).Oftenmajoritarianstoriesare similartostereotypes.Theycantakeapointofviewandspreadopinionsthatoftenisnotobjectiveand simplynottrue.GrandehasthereaderquestionthecommonmajoritarianstoriesaboutMexican immigrantsbytellinghercompellingstoryabouthowlifereallywasforhergrowingupintheshadowsin America. Inhermemoir,Granderevealsthestoriesofillegalimmigrantsthatmostpeopleneverhearand notbotherthinkingabout.Counterstoriesarestoriesaboutpeoplethatusuallyarenotbeingtold (Yosso).AdditionallyCounterstorytellingisoftenbeingusedtoquestionstereotypesandrevealthat certainopinionssocietyhasaboutminoritygroupsaresimplynottrue(MerriweatherHunn,Talmadge, Manglitz).Iunderstandcounterstoriesasstoriesaboutthedisadvantaged,theminoritiesanddominated. IthinkthisconceptissimilartothestorytellingamongstsomenativeAmericantribesortheaborigines. Theymightnothavehadthemeanstowritestoriesdown,buttothemretellingstoriesplayedavery importantroleintheircultures.Ithinkitisforthesamereason.Oncestoriesareretoldtheygainmore andmoremeaningandpower.Counterstoriesareusedtoexposethewrongsandinjusticeinour societiestoexpose,challengeandhopefullyslowlyeliminateracialinjustice.Inshort,toqualifyasa

counterstoryastoryhastorevealandpointoutinjusticetowardsaminorityand/ordisadvantaged group. DespiteTheDistanceBetweenbeingamemoiritdoesnotonlytellReynasstory,but alsotellsthestoriesofmanyotherundocumentedMexicansintheUSA,whichqualifiesitasa counterstory.Itissosad,butunfortunatelymanyAmericanswoulddescribeMexicanimmigrantsor eventheirMexicanAmericanneighborswiththeadjectiveslazy,feckless,flatulentandoverweight. Alreadyinthelate1800stheNewYorkTimesprintedtheheadlineLazyMexicans(FlaglerLive EditorPierreTristam).AssistantprofessorofsociologyattheUniversityofSouthernCalifornia,Mr Vallejo,saidinaninterviewwithFoxNewsthattheAmericansocietyoftenthinksofMexicansthatthey arepoor,lackingeducation,workatlowleveljobsandtheirchildrendonotintegrateintothemiddle class.Grandeshowsustheopposite.Herfatherisahardworker,whoisafraidoflosinghisjobifhe missestoomanydays.Hehasambitions,wantstoimprovehisEnglishandgetabetterjoboncehecan speakthelanguagebetterandhashisgreencard(p.236).Hewantshischildrentogotoschool,geta goodeducationandmakesomethingoutoftheirlives(p.166).IbelieveGrandewantedtotellthe worldthattheyshouldnotjudgeillegalimmigrantssoeasily.Mostofthemsimplywantabetterlifefor themselvesandtheirchildren.Asmentionedearlier,shewantedtoshowherreadersthestrugglesand hardshippeoplefacewhentheyimmigratetotheUSA,legallyandillegally.Sheacknowledgescertain stereotypes,likeviolenceamongstLatinos,butbreaksdownalotofothers.Mostpeopledonotthink oftheconstantfearundocumentedMexicanslivein,especiallythechildren,whowerebroughttothe USAbytheirparents.Theydidnottointendtobreakthelawandlivehereillegally.Alltheywantisa normallifeandachanceforsuccess(ABCNews).ItisthesameforReyna.Allshewantedwastoget agoodeducationandmakeherfatherproud.EventodayGrandestillwantstogivebacktothis

countryeverythingitgaveme.(LosAngelesReviewofBooksmagazine,LARB). ItrulyhopethattheDREAMActisthefirststepintotherightdirection.Especiallythechildren ofillegalimmigrantsshouldnotbepunishedfortheirparentsdecision.Forthemostpart,alltheyknow islifeintheUSA.Theyhavetheirfriendsandparentshere,theyaregoingtoschoolhereandtheyare dreamingofafuturehere.Istronglybelievetheydeserveachanceatanormallifetotostepoutofthe shadowsasGrandesaidintheinterviewwithLARB.Grandesbook,whoisbothanexampleof ChangeWritingaccordingtoPiphersdefinition,andacounterstoryrevealingthelifeofundocumented Mexicanimmigrantsisdoingisanimportanthelpwhenitcomestoslowlyinchangingpeoples perceptionabouttheDREAMActandtheMexicanimmigrantsitaffects.

Workscited Adib,Desiree.UndocumentedStudentsStruggleTowardCollege.ABCNews.2009.Web.20. Feb.2014. Amazon.Amazon.com.Web.20.Feb.2014. FoxNewsLatino.SociologistRefutesStereotypesofMexicanAmericansinNewBook.FOX NewsNetwork.2012.Web.20.Feb.2014. Grande,Reyne.TheDistanceBetweenUs.NewYork:WashingtonSquarePress.2012.Print. MerriweatherHunn,Lisa.Guy,TalmadgeC.,Manglitz,Elaine.WhoCanSpeakforWhom?n.d. Print. Munoz,SusanaMaria,andMartaMariaMaldonado."CounterstoriesOfCollegePersistenceBy UndocumentedMexicanaStudents:NavigatingRace,Class,Gender,AndLegalStatus."International JournalOfQualitativeStudiesInEducation(QSE)25.3(2012):293315.ERIC.Web.14Feb. 2014. Olivias,Daniel.ReynaGrandesJourney:DanielOlivasinterviewsReynaGrande.LosAngeles ReviewofBooks.Web.14Feb.2014. Passel,JeffreyS.,Cohn,DVera,GonzalesBarrera,Ana.PopulationDeclineofUnauthorized ImmigrantsStalls,MayHaveReversed.PewResearchCenter,Washington,D.C.2013. http://www.pewhispanic.org/2013/09/23/populationdeclineofunauthorizedimmigrantsstallsmayhav ereversed/,20.Feb.2014. Pipher,Mary.WritingtoChangetheWorld.NewYork:RiverheadBooks.2006.Print.