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Dreaming out of the Shadows: Legal Status and Mental Health in Reyna Grande and Diane Guerrero’s Memoirs (pp. 113-132)

Amaia Soroa Bacaicoa

University of the Basque Country


This article aims to explore how legal status affects the lives and mental health of migrant families in Reyna Grande’s The Distance Between Us and Diane Guerrero’s In the Country We Love. These two memoirs portray the lives of young Latinas who struggle to succeed and overcome the various barriers faced as members of mixed-status families, where at least one family member is undocumented. 

In this paper, I argue that regardless of their individual legal status, the protagonists are affected by multigenerational punishment (Enriquez 2015); legal status affects the success, sense of belonging and unity of all family members, and it has an impact on the mental health of the protagonists. I will support this literary analysis with studies in psychology and sociology that assess the wellbeing of migrant families.

Nowadays, a significant part of the undocumented population in the U.S. is being affected by family separation and mass deportations. It can therefore be argued that both memoirs describe situations that are relevant to a big part of the Latinx community, and the resilient attitude of the protagonists can be truly inspiring, especially for younger audiences. They may raise consciousness and contribute to the ongoing conversation on migration, one of the central topics in our society.

Keywords: migration, Latina literature, mental health, resilience, DREAMers


Amaia Soroa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Studies with an emphasis on Literatures in English and a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). She is currently a 2nd-year PhD student at the same university, where she has been granted a predoctoral scholarship. Her dissertation focuses on the portrayal of mental health issues in 21st century Latina literature. She has worked as an English teacher and as a Spanish language and culture assistant in the USA.

e-mail addressamaia.soroa@ehu.eus


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