You Bring the Distant Near

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Sep 2017

Member Reviews

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins is a YA-adult crossover book, following three generations of Indian women and their individual immigrant experiences. Perkins weaves a tight narrative spanning countries and decades, discussing heavy themes like colorism, general anti-blackness and pervasive existence of gender roles within the desi community, as well as how unique the immigrant experience is to every immigrant. 

By telling the tale of several women, Perkins showcases how attitudes can change, and sometimes stay stagnant; how people evolve and learn from their mistakes and shortcomings, while others never do. It's beautifully told with five complexly developed characters, each with distinct voices and personalities - each with strengths and weaknesses. From immigrant women patriotic to the country they immigrated to, to immigrant women desperately holding on to the country they immigrated from. If this novel does anything perfectly, it's to show the diversity and vastness of the immigrant experience in an unflinchingly honest way.

This book is perfect for fans of Celeste Ng's work, as well as readers who enjoyed Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Because it follows adult women as well as young adult women, I believe this is a book that is a perfect crossover read - a bridge between both genres that all age groups can enjoy. My only true complaint was that I wished each perspective had gotten an equal amount of time. It could have been a much longer book, and I would have been happier had it had another 100-200 pages.
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I loved this book! The full review will be posted soon at kaitgoodwin.com/books! Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity to connect books to their readers!
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Beautiful book about generations of Bengali women. I was very pleased to read a book about this particular experience, and I'm excited to share it with my students.
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Beautiful book! The story, the language, the characters. A definite recommendation for a diverse YA read.
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I absolutely LOVE this book! It may be categorized as YA but I honestly think it would do equally well or better marketed as a grown up read. Fabulous. I included it in my best of 2017 lists far and wide.
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I can’t believe that I downloaded this book from NetGalley and then completely forgot about it. It was one of those books that I heard so many positive things about and couldn’t wait to read. What happened…I have no idea! I’m just so happy that I rediscovered it on my iPad because this book was absolutely beautiful!

The story focuses on the lives of five women from the Das family. It begins in the 1960s and works its way to the modern day. The book is very character driven and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about each of the characters. They were all so different from each other with their own unique voices, perspectives, dreams and ways of approaching the world around them. They all felt so real and I could help but be drawn into their lives. None of the characters were perfect, instead they were flawed, made mistakes and dealt with the consequences. It truly felt like I knew them and that takes some masterful writing!

Talking about the writing, it was vivid and emotional. I particularly enjoyed how Bengali culture was woven into the story. I am not very familiar with the culture, but that didn’t matter to my understanding or enjoyment. Instead, the author explains key words or concepts without slowing down or taking away from the story. Culture is one of the central themes of the story and I liked how each character approached it in a different way. Basically, there is no right or wrong way to live and embrace your culture. It’s unique to each person and changes based on their beliefs and life experiences.

The only issue I had with the book was its pacing. It took me quite sometime to read through it. This is mostly because there isn’t a whole lot of action. It is very much a book that looks into the inner thoughts of a character. I often read a section, put it down and then came back to it. It’s definitely not a page turner or a book that will keep you up all night, but that by no means took away from how much I liked it. It’s not advertised or meant to be an action adventure novel.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to people looking for an own voices diverse read. I haven’t read any of the author’s other novels, but will for sure check them out in the near future. Her way of writing is magical and if they are anything like this gem I’m in for a real treat!
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You Bring the Distant Near is a multi-generational tale about this one family, and more specifically the women in this family. They are Bengali and immigrate to America from London in the 1970s. The main crux of this story is about the two sisters, Sonia and Tara, and their experiences. The writing, the story at the heart of this, the family, everything was just absolutely amazing. I really loved reading about 1970s America from this family's perspective. I did find that the final section, which follows their respective daughters, didn't quite mesh as well with the rest of the story. But overall, this was an incredible novel and I'd highly recommend it.
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Told in the alternating voices of the Das sisters and their daughters, You Bring the Distant Near is the story of three generations of women in a Bengali family, who immigrated to the United States. The bond between Sonia and Tara Das is explored as they each struggle find their own place in America, all while obeying the cultural traditions of their family. Supportive and united, each sister takes a separate path in life, which leads Tara to success as a film star back home in India and and Sonia into a full embrace of  an inclusive American culture and a happy interracial marriage in New York.  Their daughters, Chantal and Anna, in turn have very different upbringings, but all the threads of this family’s disparate experiences come together when Anna is sent back to the US to finish high school.  Beautifully written with well-drawn and complex characters, the novel realistically portrays the nuanced relationships between the women.  The rich Bengali culture weaves through the three generations, influencing each of the women in different ways.  Strongly recommended as an addition to your collection of novels on the immigrant experience, filled positive messages about acceptance, integration, and  identity.
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I adored this journey of family and self discovery. Gorgeously written. Mitali has a gift that shines through her writing, always.
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Ever since I saw this beautiful cover, I’ve wanted You Bring the Distant Near. Yes, I’m shallow. So what? It’s okay because this time it actually didn’t lead me astray. You Bring the Distant Near verges on adult fiction rather than YA, but it’s a beautifully done family saga in microcosm either way.

In You Bring the Distant Near, Perkins focuses on five women in one family, with a particular focus on their romances. You start out with Sonia and Tara as teens, immigrating from the UK to the US and trying to find a place in US culture. From there, the narrative moves to Shanti and Anna, Sonia and Tara’s daughters. Sonia and Tara’s mother Ranee has a couple of chapters throughout, in which she comes to accept American culture and embrace her multicultural family. With the age of the protagonists and the way the subjects are handled, it seems more aimed at an adult audience than a teen one, but I didn’t really mind.

A story like this is really hard to pull off well, especially in such a short novel, but Perkins succeeds. The narration trades back in forth between the various girls, and I was really surprised by how much I ended up feeling invested in each narrative. It helps that they tend to center on romance, while not being about romance as much as family. Of all the perspectives, I likes Sonia and Shanti’s the best, I think, but I was surprised by how much I came to care about Ranee, who initially I didn’t like at all. It’s just really well done, and it highlights some of the positives of American culture, while not presenting the fairy tale version that absolutely doesn’t exist.

Though I had a print ARC, I ended up choosing the audiobook, and I’m glad I did. It’s always lovely to get a full cast for a multiple POV book, and I really loved the variety of voices and accents. Admittedly, some of the narrators were not so great at doing accents not their own (the narrator who reads for Sonia especially struggles with American accents).

So yeah, if you’re looking for the typical YA narrative, this may not please you, but it’s brilliantly done and multicultural af, so I would absolutely recommend it otherwise.
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I always enjoy books about girls coming to learn about their families and cultures, and this book did not disappoint in that aspect. That said, the writing didn't bring anything new to the table and I found myself having a hard time getting into it. I'm still giving the book a pretty good rating, as I think it may be a case of "it's not the book, it's me", and I will try this one again at a later time. (If I enjoy it more later on, I'll come back and rewrite this as a full review!)
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Novels that cover multiple generations within a family are my jam, so I loved most of this book. The first stories focus on two sisters as their family moves from India to London to New York. As they grow up and begin their own lives, the focus moves to their daughters. The book ends by circling back around to give voice to the mother of the original narrators. The two sisters at the beginning were the most interesting for me, but all of the stories provide a fascinating look at what it's like to hold onto Bengali traditions while also adjusting to American customs. My only real complaint is that the matriarch of the family only got a few pages to tell her story, instead of multiple chapters.
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Follow 3 generations of women as they navigate new American life and all that comes with it; love, friendships, loss, and more.

Ranee is finding it hard to adjust to life in America.  Bengal is her home, and even though she and her daughters have lived in many places, America is so different from anything she has ever known.  Her daughters, Tara and Sonia, are adjusting to life in a new place; Sonia finds solace in her local library, while Tara learns to fit in by emulating Marcia Brady.  Each girl has her own secret aspirations, ones that their very traditional mother finds hard to understand at times.  Flash forward and Tara and Sonia are now young adults with their own new set of challenges they are facing.  The last generation Perkins introduces readers to are Tara and Sonia's daughters who are in high school and facing their own set of challenges.  

Perkins does a fantastic job of creating vivid characters that are feeling the very real pressures of living in a new country, being a woman of color, and more.  Every character is on her own journey; no one is perfect, but relatable in her own way.  Perkins uses her own childhood and family memories to really bring this story to life.

I highly recommend this book to all libraries, Perkins has crafted an amazing novel with You Bring the Distant Near.
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Sadly, this is one of my DNF pile. I tried so hard to give this a chance but to no avail.
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You Bring the Distant Near is a multi-generational read that centers around the complexities of navigating multiple cultures, the immigrant experience, and understanding the different generations. While it doesn't offer anything new to the common motif in immigrant stories, it does a nice job in highlighting the importance of finding ones home despite where you are in the world.
   The story opens in 1970s New York, where the Das family has immigrated from England in hopes of planting roots and finding acceptance. Sisters Tara and Sonia are two teen girls who crave personal freedom and they often go against their mother Ranee's strict and traditional Indian values. Older sister Tara is known for her looks and her charisma is contagious. She longs to be an actress. Younger sister Sonia is introverted, incredibly intelligent, and a budding feminist Sonia. The tumultuous relationship between Sunny and Ranee is at the heart of the novel, representing the clash and resistance of and ultimate blending of cultures. In the United States, Ranee struggles in vain to hold on to her "Indianness," not only for herself, but also for her children. I really enjoyed this first half of the book as I connected with Sunny and Ranee the most. I could easily understand their conflicts between personal desire and their responsibilities to their culture. I think this is the strongest aspect of the book. I also appreciated the complexities of race and culture when it came to interracial marriage and gender roles.
  The second half of the book jumps through time where both Tara and Sunny have established lives with marriage and children. We now follow the narratives of their daughters, Anna and Chantal respectively. It is only through her connection to her granddaughters, Chantal and Anna that Ranee finds redemption and transformation. For me the second half of the book falters a bit as Perkins tries to touch upon different issues hurriedly such as racial imposter syndrome (where a person from multiple cultures don't see themselves in any culture), Islamophobia, and American patriotism.
  Though I enjoyed the multi-generational aspect to the story, which is not common in YA litertature, I think the book might have been stronger if there were two companion novels. Chantal and Anna are mirror images of their mothers and I would have liked to see them grow as individuals. I would also have loved for the nuisance and complex themes be explored in more details. Overall, You Bring the Distant Near is an enjoyable read that many readers can see themselves and shines a light on an experience that is actually more familiar than we think.
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My review can be seen at RT Book Reviews.
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You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins 100% deserves all the praise. IT IS SO GOOD. Also, it deserves all kinds of attention. I can’t say for sure if it has been getting attention on the bookish internets because I’ve really just been holed up disconnected, reading all the books and hanging with my kiddo instead of engaging. Anyways, You Bring The Distant Near is the second book I’ve read by Perkins (see: Bamboo People) but now I know FOR SURE I AM GOING TO READ HER OTHER BOOKS. And get all shouty because I get shouty about things that are good.

Perkins’ latest book follows basically six characters. It opens up with a swim meet when character Sonia is kind of young. Then it transitions to Sonia and her sister, Tara, moving to New York with their mother to meet up with their father who got a job in the United States. We get to see Sonia and Tara become kind of Americanized but also keep some of their roots as well. From there the story goes on to the next generation with cousins Anna and Chantel, again exploring identity. The book then ends with a focus on Ranee, the matriarch of this wonderful family.

Sonia and Tara have their part of You Bring The Distant Near set in the 1970s. That kind of made me (born in the late 80s) feel young. Sonia is incredibly smart and really into books. She also kinds herself getting into the equal rights movement and becoming a feminist. I am here for that. Her sister Tara isn’t as academically inclined, but she’s smart and valued too. Tara is a gifted actress and finds herself taking on different roles in real life to kind of help her adjust — from Twiggy to Marcia. I found myself really interested in reading about Sonia and Tara.

Anna and Chantel are cousins and obviously the children of Sonia and Tara. Anna ends up moving from India to New York City and staying with her grandmother. She goes to school with Chantel. It is a bit of a learning curve for her as she must adjust to the culture, the same as her mother and aunt did. However, she really does find her niche and you can’t help but root for her. As for Chantel, she struggles a little bit with her identity being multiracial. She ends up really being pretty cool though – a popular athlete.

You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins is a beautifully written book about multiple generations of women in a Bengali family. It is fascinating to see how time impacts this family. I loved seeing how even Ranee is a dynamic character. This book is engrossing. It’s well paced. And well, the characterization cannot be beat. Definitely would recommend to you if you’re into stories that span decades.
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The writing style, wording, and story are absolutely beautiful. The pacing feels natural, and the issues that the story confronts are well-handled, and no dialogue ever feels stilted or forced. "You Bring the Distant Near" is easily a favorite with its clever characters and lovely writing.
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Excerpt from Review: "... I was surprised when I finally realized that You Bring the Distant Near was actually a teen novel.  Sure, the story is told through the eyes of the girls as teenagers, but we do see some things through the eyes of Ranee Das as well (toward the end, anyway) and the subject matter is not just kid stuff, though teen novels rarely are these days.  I suppose what I am trying to say is that Mitali Perkins’ writing is so captivating and her characters are so real and likeable, that this book is enjoyable for people of any age, including myself (and I’m far…ahem…maybe not too far…from being a teenager)..."
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Did not finish -wasn't was I was expecting. Not bad, just not in my interests.
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