Her twin sister, Susana, died just 37 days after their birth.A year later, her father, who worked for the U.S. State Department, was assigned to Mexico, where her sister, Anita, was born.He was transferred to El Salvador where Sandra lived for most of the next 20 years.She lived with her grandparents in northeastern Missouri, and attended Unionville high school, returning each summer to El Salvador.
In 1997 she was selected as the University of Minnesota Edelstein-Keller Distinguished Writer in Residence. In 1998 she did the Writers Community Residency for the YMCA National Writer’s Voice program. In the spring of 2001 she held the Knapp Chair in Humanities as Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of San Diego.
She lives with her husband, Jim Kondrick, in Edina, Minnesota.