I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
Release date: September 12th, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, historical fiction
Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.
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!
About the Author
Mitali Perkins has written several novels for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for the National Book Award), Rickshaw Girl (a NYPL best 100 Book for children in the past 100 years), Bamboo People (an ALA Top 10 YA novel), and Tiger Boy, which won the South Asia Book Award for Younger Readers. She currently writes and resides in San Francisco.