Award-winning author Reyna Grande discusses new book at City College

Grande also discusses life after immigrating to America and becoming a writer


Student Alexander Daumas gets his book signed by author Reyna Grande at City College. Photo by Sophia Traylor/City Times Media

Sophia Traylor, Multimedia Journalist

San Diego City College students and faculty gathered in the Educational Center on Oct. 4 to hear guest speaker Reyna Grande introduce her new book “A Ballad of Love and Glory.” 

The event was organized by English professor Elva Salinas and funded by World Cultures, the Puente program and the Student Equity and Achievement Grant. Reyna shared the panel with Paola Hernandez-Jiao, The San Diego Union-Tribune’s community relations manager.

“A Ballad of Love and Glory” takes place during the Mexican-American war in 1848. It tells the fictional love story of a Mexican woman and an Irish soldier from the St. Patrick’s Battalion. The soldier broke his alliance with Irish forces and fought alongside Mexican soldiers.

Grande said the book is not just a love story surrounded by war but also a story of immigrants.

“I was shocked when I started to research the Irish of the 19th century and their immigrant experience,” Grande said. “It was so similar to what Latino immigrants experience.”

The audience broke the silence in a union of finger-snapping upon hearing Grande reminisce about how she was made to feel like a foreigner as a Spanish-speaking Mexican after immigrating. 

Social and behavioral science major Dia Soto can relate.

“A lot of us have faced prejudice, discrimination and fear,” Soto said while her eyes welled up.

Soto refers to Grande as one of her literary “sheroes.” 

“Being here with her is just an honor,” Soto said. “She inspired me to write a poem about some of my challenges (being undocumented) because I also crossed the border when I was a little girl alongside my mother.” 

Attendees, moved by the power and relatability of Grande’s words, eagerly crowded around her to purchase a book and get it signed when she was finished speaking. 

“As a person who grew up in Mexico who moved to the States,” ASG member and Mathematics major Alexander Daumas said, “you start viewing them (authors like Grande) as far away, big figures, and think ‘I’m never going to be like that.’

“But then it’s here, at City College, and I can just raise my hand and ask questions.”

For more information on Reyna Grande and her books, visit her website