You Bring the Distant Near

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Sep 2017

Member Reviews

You Bring the Distant Near is a family story told in three parts, each covering a different time in the lives of five women.

Part One begins with a move. After living in Ghana and then London for a number of years, Rajeev Das gets a job in New York and moves his family, wife Ranee, daughters Tara and Sonia, into an apartment in Flushing, Queens. Though her daughters adjust to life in Flushing, Ranee is distrustful of the black kids who live in the neighborhood and wants to move. After a year in Queens, they move into a house in Ridgeford, New Jersey. 

Renee tries to hold on the some customary Bengali traditions, but her daughters quickly assimilate to life as Americans. Tara, the eldest daughter, wants to study theater, while Sonia’s interests lie more towards feminism and politics, aware of their parents desire for them to keep at least some of their Bengali cultural. 

Part Two begins after the tragic death of Rajeev. The Das family suddenly finds themselves at odds with each other, yet each painfully missing Rajeev. In high school, Sonia wins an all expenses paid trip to Paris, happy to get away from home. Fellow African American student Lou Johnson, handsome and friendly, has also won a spot on the trip, and although the two have always been at odds with each other in New Jersey, they quickly become friends in Paris. After college, Sonia and Lou marry, causing Ranee to completely stop speaking to Sonia.

Meanwhile, Tara pursues an acting career, while also being pursued by Amit Sen, a successful Bengali man. After refusing several marriage proposals because Amit had been picked for her by her parents, Tara finally says yes on a trip to India to spread her fathers ashes in the Ganges, and a visit to his childhood home. Tara continues with her acting career, becoming a famous actress/singer in India.

Part Three belongs to the daughters of Sonia and Tara. Chantel, or Shanti, has been raised in New York, living in Harlem with her parents, Lou and Sonia, and attending an exclusive private school on full scholarship. Anna, or Anu, has been living in Mumbai, and going school there. Now, though, she is in New York and in the same school as Shanti. Anu is not happy about the move. She is proud to be Bangali to the core, and considers Mumbai her real home. She has also inherited her grandmother's talent for sewing, even making and wearing her own salwar kameezes. 

You Bring the Distant Near is a compelling intergenerational story that is actually told more in a series of vignettes that sometimes skips over years, and yet, nothing is lost. Perkins has created five women, all seemingly so very different from each other and yet held together by their Bengali heritage, whether they embrace it or not. And it is a mark of Perkins talent as a writer that shows us the changes in each of these women over time and the events, both personal and public, that impact their lives. It is a slow, gentle novel, that more than once brought tears to my eyes.

The five female characters that Perkins has created are very well developed, truly finely tuned, but my personal favorite was Ranee. In Ranee, I saw my own father’s struggle to assimilate into American life while retaining his cultural identity. Ranee, like my dad, eventually finds the balance that works for her. And in that respect, Perkins has really captured the complexities of what being an immigrants means, as she explores the high cost and ways in which the Das family loses their cultural connections to their past and the ways in which they find redemption.

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was an EARC received at NetGalley

FYI: The title of this book comes from a poem which is printed at the beginning of the book. It was written by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), an Indian poet who also figures into the story of the Das family frequently. Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, the first Asian to do so. You can find more of his beautiful poetry at the Poetry Foundation HERE
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This was unexcepted and lovely. I adore a book that created real women with warts and all. I also like that it does t buy into traditional tropes.
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A hauntingly beautiful book about three generations of women and their experiences in the United States. Born in India but spent most of their lives in London, new immigrants Tara and Sonia embrace American culture even while their mother Ranee struggles with her new American life. Spanning the years 1973-2006 and giving insight from three generations of women in the same family, You Bring the Distant Near covers first love, families, cultural identity and what each generation struggles to keep cultural connections or let them go. All five women have a strong and distinct voice and you can't help but fall in love with the Das family as you read this book.
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Hello, fellow book lovers of the world and welcome to my latest blog. This blog is about Mitali Perkins Book, "You Bring the Distant Near". I originally received this book as an E Arc from Netgalley but somehow it was misplaced so I could not review it. So I decide to purchase the book from Amazon on September 25 and was just now able to get to reading it. So now on to the summary and my final thoughts on the book.


This book is a story five generations of Indian women from India. We first meet Ranee, her daughters Tara and Sonia. They take us on a journey of leaving India, then Britain to go to America. The Das family decides that America will be their final home. This is hard on Ranee but she learns to accept it, while Sonia and Tara learn to accept it as well. Tara longs for the life of movies and acting is her gift. While Sonia is true to the core feminist, who believes in fighting for others rights especially women. But as the girls are finding it hard to live with Indian tradition, unlike their mother who wants nothing but India to remain in their home. But then Tragedy strikes and it causes a change in the family. It leads to Sonia and Tara both meeting the men they wish to fall in love with. Tara chooses an Indian man but still remains very American while Sonia goes full American and marries an African American man. As time goes by both girls each have a daughter by the name of Anna and Chantal (their American names) and once again Tragedy happens that teaches the Das family, its good to hold both Indian and American traditions close to home, and also to love both. This book is filled with life, love, and learning decisions that all women face. I really love this book and I suggest you go buy it and read it right now. Now onto my final thoughts about the book.

I rated this book a four out of five stars. It was well worth the buy and I am so happy I did. I love how inspiring Mitali Perkins made this book be. It shares the importance of remembering where you came from while trying to discover yourself as a person. It shows you that family is the most important thing and to never give up on that. It teaches you that real love can overcome even the most painful moments. It was inspiring to hear Sonia Das talk about women rights and how important even in today's light that conversation still remains. In the case of Anna, it shows how a family can feel put out about each other but can learn that things may not always be as they appear. It shows the ups and downs that all families face when not knowing their legacies. This book to me is especially inspiring to women and it shows how as young women we need to study are ancestor females, to better understand us. I can't recommend this book enough. It is such an easy but fast pace read. I flew through this book. I suggest if you're a female, go buy this book right now. I also want to mention that I love the diversity in this book so much. You See Indian customs, along with African American Harlem, plus the rich white new york. It's not all about one way of life, its truly about America and what makes us Great. It's about the world coming together and learning to coexist as one. So worth the buy and I suggest you do.
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Me and this book just aren’t friends. I have a lot to say about this. I ended up not finishing it. I don’t know if it was because it was a contemporary which isn’t my favorite genre, or it just wasn’t a very fascinating one. I basically lost all momentum and desire to finish this. I think what was happening was that I was trying to convince myself to live and finish this book that it just left me unsatisfied. That’s not to say this was a bad book! It’s extremely diverse, deals with great, hard topics, and I’m sure this book will mean a lot to a lot of people. It just wasn’t for me. I found the overall storyline to just be dull and totally left me uninterested. I thought the characters were alright but I didn’t really find myself connecting or loving any of them either. Also the pacing was honestly bad. It was so weird and left you feeling like you had missed huge chunks of time and what was happening. Overall, I would still recommend people who are looking for a diverse book and like contemporaries to give this a shot.
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You Bring the Distant Near is an outstanding new title from Mitali Perkins.  I loved how the story spanned generations, allowing the reader to shift their perspective from grandparents to parents to grandchildren, all dealing at different times with similar issues of cultural preservation and assimilation.  I work in a school with many Indian and Indian American students.  I am so pleased to see a new authentic title reflecting this multicultural experience in the U.S.
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There are so many things that I want to say about this book and I don't think I can do it justice. A generational story surrounding one Indian family that moves from India to Britain, then to New York it touches my heart and I think that it will touch yours as well. I don't want to give too much away because I really think this book you should just go in knowing that but as someone that doesn't usually read contemporary books, this is one that definitely needs more hype. 

The one thing that I wish there was more of was time to dive into each girls world. The short length left a lot of things to be slightly rushed through that I would have loved to learn more about. But, alas, it isn't so. I am just glad that I got to meet Tara, Sonia, Shanti, Anna, and Ranee!
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This book had a lot to do with identity. All five women in this family had their own struggle with identity. They didn't want to lose their culture or they wanted to embrace the new. They worried about fitting in with the world around them or they wanted to stand out. I enjoyed the book but I didn't love it. There was a central theme but I usually want to read books with more of a plot. That was how I felt with this book. I loved the author's writing because I enjoyed the story I was reading but I was getting frustrated because the story skips years and moves to the next generation.
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This book is so charming! We meet three generations of women in the Das family and watch them grow up and discover themselves. I love the family interactions and the way the coming-of-age stories are woven together. And I hope the National Book Award long list will bring this book the attention it deserves!
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You Bring the Distant Near is follows with a 3-generations of Bengali family who has been living away from their home country for many many years. The girls' father has been working around the globe - Ghana, Singapore, Cameroon, the Philippines, Malaysia (OMG! Feels so amazing seeing my country is in this book being mention here!), London and finally, the United States. While their father working almost half part of the world, the girls (Sonia and Tara) with the mother resides in London and after that, their father brings them to the United States and settles down there. In this book, it is so full of insightful things from the customs to their cultures also their experiences immigrating to the United States.

I am glad that I got the chance to read a wonderful family story and learning about their customs and cultures. I live in a multi-race country and this book has it all. Mitali Perkins has written such a beautiful books that I cannot say I don't like it because I love it! The story follows with Sonia and Tara (the daughter from the second generation) and Grandmother Ranee (the first generation) and Chantal and Anna (the third generation). They all have a different experience in their life, how they manage themselves to fit in with the society, how they work together to maintain their relationship to be strong no matter what happened and the love they show to each other is so beautiful. 

Of all the characters, I love Anna and Chantal the most. Anna has been living in India since she was a kid and has been schooling for most of her life there but her parents want her to complete her high school senior in the United States with her cousin, Chantal. Here, I see how Anna struggles to fit herself in the new school and blend with the people, she opens the eyes of her teacher and other kids about women needs to have their own private place. All the characters in the book have different personality and perspectives.

Overall, I enjoy reading the book and it really unfolds things that we do not realize before. I think if you are looking for something that has a different culture and about family, You Bring the Distant Near is for you.
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Sadly I had too many galleys and couldn't keep up I apologize and will do better in the future,......................................................
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Very engaging portrait of a family. Couldn't put it down.
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This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This started out great, but slowly fell apart the further I got into it. The blurb announced that it's "Told in alternating teen voices across three generations," but I did not expect from this that we would actually fast-forward through all three generations, and eventually be moving so rapidly that it was all-but impossible to keep track of who was who.

I'd thought it would be about the interactions between three generations all existing together! I did not expect to be flung summarily and unexpectedly into the future as those new generations arrived on the scene. The story lost so much in those jumps that it was ruined for me.

The huge, unbridged chasms between different parts of the novel were destructive, and really spoiled the story which had begun at a really good pace and allowed the reader to honestly get to know this family. I would have been quite content to follow the first two girls, Sonia and Tara, through the whole book, and see how their lives panned out. Unfortunately, I was robbed of that in this author's hell-bent, breakneck sprint to get to the grandchildren.

I felt Sonia and Tara were torn from me and diminished into becoming distant and vague memories as the new generation swept in. We learned nothing of their adult lives except what we were told in summary. It was like riding an elevator, and the car coming down at a comfortable pace, then something goes wrong and suddenly you're plunging the last few floors in free-fall. There was no warning; nothing to indicate that the comfortable pace of the early story was suddenly going to change to a rough ride.

Even that might have worked, but the story moved far too fast and spent so little time on the youngest generation that we never got to know them. They were brought in so quickly, and were danced around so capriciously that they were never more than two-dimensional shadow puppets, and not real people at all. I could not connect with them.

I was left not caring about them because they were strangers. I was left wondering why I had read that far instead of DNF-ing this novel as soon as Sonia and Tara were forced to take a back seat. It felt like the author had lost interest in the story and wanted to get it over with as soon as she could, so that she might move on to another project, and so she just summarized, or maybe simply published her outline instead of turning it into an actual story.

Perhaps I should have figured out how it would end when we met the first two girls with their story already in progress. After the briefest flash-in-the-pan memory of life in Ghana, which I had thought might be relevant later, but which was not, we meet the girls already on a plane from London to New York, so London is not even a memory in the author's desperation to get these teens onto American soil - like no other soil really matters, not even for Indian girls.

We did get a very brief time in India, which was delightful, but that was quickly over, and then the future was already banging on the door, demanding entrance, and people were married and having children before any courtship had seriously begun. It was too fast, too furious, to borrow the name of a movie, and like the movie, it was all fumes and madcap rushing from that point onwards. It was very unsatisfying.

This had the potential to be a great story and I wish the author had had enough faith in her two girls to let their story shine, but she evidently didn't, and it obviously didn't, and I felt robbed. I cannot recommend this as a worthy read.
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A story about identity, race, culture, and finding your place and your home in the world! Perkins, once again, develops characters that you care about, and you hope will succeed in our complicated world.
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*I received this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review*

"Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story."

I loved this book so much. The characters all felt so real and different and human to me and that in and of itself helped to shape this book. I enjoyed reading about their lives as they came to and from America and how the relationships between families grew together and apart. Each woman truly had their own story to tell and it was told expertly through this story. My only complaint is that I wished it was longer as I wanted to know more, I felt like there were so many years and pieces missing from the story and I wanted the gaps to be filled in.
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Mitali Perkins’ You Bring the Distant Near is an unforgettable narrative 

Much like Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi I have fallen in love with Mitali Perkins’ You Bring the Distant Near.

You Bring the Distant Near tells the stories of five girls/women over the span of three generations. Ranee, the oldest, is worried that her children are losing their Indian culture. Sonia is Ranee’s daughter who falls in love with an African-American friend. Tara is Sonia’s sister who is always acting, even though she’s never been on stage. Shanti is struggling to bring balance to a family divided by two cultures. And Anna, Shanti’s cousin, can’t understand why her family wants her to give up her Bengali identity.

There’s something about reading a book so well written that you feel at home with the characters and setting, even when in your real life, you have no reference point. That’s what happens with You Bring the Distant Near.

Author Mitali Perkins has the ability to bring readers of all backgrounds together. She builds her characters and their stories through context in such a seamless manner that you don’t realize you’ve been swept into her world.

I did not want to put down You Bring the Distant Near. I read my digital copy wherever I could sneak in a minute or two. There’s nothing over the top in this book. There are no battles or explosions. There are, however, simple moments as well as complex. It’s a story of sisterhood, friendship and family that you’ll want to read more than once.
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Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story.

Tara’s family has just immigrated to New York from India via London. Her beauty draws everyone’s eyes, but she doesn’t let anyone truly see her.

Her younger sister, Sonia, is falling in love with a boy her mother can’t accept, cutting a deep wound in the Das family.

The daughter of a Bollywood star, Anna is both brilliant and shy, like the Bengal tigers she fights to protect.

Chantal is as fierce a dancer as she is a friend, student, and athlete. But will her wealthy new boyfriend be able to thrive in her shadow?

And Ranee, the center that binds them all together, is beginning to unravel.

As each Das woman decides which Bengali traditions to uphold in America and which to leave behind, one hard truth remains: some scars take generations to heal.- Goodreads

This was an interesting read for me. I wasn't expecting much (tbh) and its not because of the author or the hype but a lot of contemporary books try so hard to reach someone that the flow and empathy to an issue is often is missed. In this read that wasn't the case exactly.

It was written with care, respect and empathy towards several issues; colourism, stereotypes, family relationships, death, being bi-racial, racism and being an immigrant. A lot is going on and you have to pay attention to have a open heart in order to see the obvious as well as the underline. The author did a really good job to not over complicate things but to make it known that these issues are part of life and as easy as the author fit it in it is common in the lives of some people. 

I really loved Tara and Sunny's section of the book. Anna and Chantal come off more entitled then I would have liked but their lives is completely different from Tara and Sunny. 

If you are expecting this book to be fast pace it really isn't but you get wrapped into the lives of these girls and you come to live them, want to support them, relate and understand them. It is detailed without feeling like it is being dragged and it is complex without feeling as if the author is doing too much. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book, the second half lost its spark for me but I liked how the author tied up loose ends. 

3 Pickles
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This is a great book symbolizing family, love and development. Everyone who likes these three things would love this book. Enjoy.
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I absolutely loved the concept of this book.  Three generations of women, weaving together a tale spanning different ages, countries, identities.  

However, I just wasn't able to get into it.  It took me over a month to read (not a good sign), and I started and finished a few books after beginning this one.  I couldn't necessarily connect with any of the characters, save for the matriarch of the family-- and only in the beginning.  It felt like every character had distinctions about them, but all these distinctions were told, never shown.  Perkins chose to explain some things in great detail.. and then skimmed over other events.
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