Second memoir by immigrant author chosen for college's One Book One Community program

Reyna Grande will deliver virtual presentation on book in early October

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • "A Dream Called Home" was released in 2018.
  • It deals with the author's experiences as a first-generation college student and her struggles to build a career for herself.
  • For more information about the One Book One Community program, call 505-566-3373.

FARMINGTON — For the first time in the history of the One Book One Community project at San Juan College, this year's selection was written by an author who previously has had a book featured in the program.

Reyna Grande's "A Dream Called Home" is this year's selection, coming seven years after her memoir "The Distance Between Us" was chosen.

Andrea Cooper, a San Juan College anthropology professor who leads the One Book One Community Committee, said the group had no concerns about doubling up on a single author, given the fact that the selection of Grande's first memoir came in 2014 and most current San Juan College students were not enrolled in the school then.

"This year, the One Book One Community team felt really strongly about having an inspirational book, something uplifting," Cooper said. "We thought about a lot of options, and this one really fit that bill."

Cooper said "A Dream Called Home" in many ways serves as an extension of "The Distance Between Us," a bestselling memoir that chronicled Grande's experiences before and after she arrived in the United States as an undocumented child immigrant. "A Dream Called Home" was released in 2018 and deals with Grande's experiences as a first-generation college student and her struggles to build a career for herself.

Andrea Cooper

Those elements of the story make it especially relevant to so many San Juan College students, Cooper said, as a lot of them are facing the same challenges.

"They're both just so brilliantly written," Cooper said of Grande's two memoirs. "But this one speaks to our population a little more because we have a lot of first-time college students."

Grande's expressions of feeling out of place on a college campus and in the world of work — especially as an immigrant — are emotions that many San Juan College students will be able to relate to, Cooper said, given the school's high number of minority students.

Reyna Grande, author of "A Dream Called Home," will deliver a virtual presentation in October for San Juan College about her memoir as part of the One Book One Community program.

"We thought it would speak to college students at this point in their lives," she said.

If early response to the book is any indication, the committee seems to have made a good choice, she said.

"It is very popular," Cooper said. "Students are really enjoying it. I've definitely given out more books than I have before. Our faculty is reading it, our students are reading it and even clubs out in the community. … It's been a good response."

"A Dream Called Home" by Reyna Grande is this year's One Book One Community selection at San Juan College.

As always, the college has a series of events related to the book scheduled to take place throughout the fall semester. The author of the book chosen for the program traditionally delivers an on-campus reading and presentation, but that will not be possible this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cooper said.

Instead, Grande will deliver a virtual reading and presentation at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5 via Zoom. Other events related to "A Dream Called Home" include "(In)visibility in Media," a presentation on media representations of Latinx and Native people at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 26 in Room 9006 of the Henderson Fine Arts Center; and a bilingual poetry reading set for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17 at Mary's Kitchen on the college campus.

The One Book One Community program at San Juan College focuses on a single book every year that students, faculty and staff members, and community members are encouraged to read and discuss. Previous selections include last year's choice, "Crazy Brave, a memoir " by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo; "The Emerald Mile," an account of a record-setting boat trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1983 by Kevin Fedarko; and "The Circle," a dystopian novel set in the near future about a worker at a young San Francisco tech firm by Dave Eggers.

For more information about the program, visit sanjuancollege.edu/community/departments/one-book-one-community/ or call 505-566-3373.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.