Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Title: You Bring the Distant Near

Author: Mitali Perkins

Pub. Date: October 31st, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary, #Ownvoices

Publisher:  Macmillan Children’s Publishing

Pages: 320

Format: eGalley/Netgalley


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 Bengal tigers and her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

You Bring the Distant Near truly felt like a gift I was unwrapping Christmas morning. It’s not often that we get stories based on Indian culture yet here we have a multi-generational book spanning the lives of 5 women in the Das family. We first meet Ranee & Rajeev Das, the parents of Tara & Sonia Das as they move from Bangladesh to London & finally Queens, New York. Rajeev Das is a hard worker & provider for his family, his wife Ranee wants them to own a beautiful home in a safe neighborhood. The Das family has very humble beginnings in a apartment in Queens that is located in a predominantly black neighborhood. We see Ranee struggle with her own prejudices & how her fear leads her to restrict Tara & Sonia. We also get an inside look on her marriage & the disconnect that often leads to arguments in the Das home. Underneath it all however, is a whole lot of love. This book truly has it all! the immigrant experience, marital woes, intersectional issues, colorism, feminism, Islamophobia, complex characters and so much more. I couldn’t put this book down other than to shed some tears every now & again. Seeing three generations of women try to retain some of their culture while also trying to fit in to their new lives was rewarding for me as a reader. Having had some of my own family immigrate from Salvador to the United States, I knew assimilating would be difficult but never really thought about how difficult it must be to try & retain some of their own culture. I found myself rooting for these characters to win their battles & stand up for what they believe is right. This isn’t by any means a fast paced book, it is however a heart warming read that gives you a inside look to a culture & people not often seen in YA books.

The author kindly included a family tree at the very beginning of the book but I found I didn’t really need it since the characters were very well fleshed out. 5 women’s stories spanning over 3 generations, all so very different from each other but the one thing they have in common is their wish to hold onto some if not all of their roots. I LOVED all of these characters, they’re the type to stick with you way after you’ve read the last page.

Rajeev & Ranee Das- mother & father to Tara & Sonia are struggling to meet eye to eye when it comes to settling down on a place to live. Rajeev is sweet & the definition of a proud & doting father. He has a ton of love for his daughters & I found myself crying the most whenever he interacted with Tara & Sonia because this is the closest a character has come to resembling my own father & how he cared for my sister & I. Rajeev is incredibly supportive of his daughters & encourages them to follow their dreams. Our matriarch Ranee Das on the other hand is the law in her home & perhaps has the most character growth in this book. She has a ton of prejudices to sort through & we get to see her struggle with her marriage, daughters, grand daughters and her own internal struggle to both let go & hold on to some cultural beliefs. I loved seeing how realistic this marriage was portrayed & the underlying love that shines through.

Tara & Sonia Das- Since the majority of this book is told in alternating POV’s between these two sisters, I felt that I really got to know them. Tara aka Star is in love with acting, drama, entertaining, and fashion. She loves studying different icons on tv & imitating their style. This is something she sees as a useful tool whenever she has moved to a new country & started a new school. Tara is also the sister everyone considers the beauty who is sure to find a suitable husband. Sonia aka Sunny is a reader & writer, she loves retreating into her own world where she can journal & read non-fiction. The move to NYC places her on course to becoming a feminist & activist. I enjoyed seeing the contrast between Sunny, Star, and Ranee. Sunny is very vocal in squashing any prejudices coming from her mother which is why they clash the most. Sunny is also of darker complexion & we see the affects of colorism both in her home & with other Indian neighbors.

Chantal & Anna-  the daughters of Sunny & Star, the latter part of YBTDN is told in alternating POV chapters with these cousins. We still get to see their parents but the focus shifts to their high school lives. Chantal is Sunny’s daughter & she is trying to find peace between her two grandmothers. Chantal is bi-racial & we get to see the very realistic familial battles that take place when two very different cultures come together through marriage. Anna is Star’s daughter & she for the most part has been raised in Mumbai. Her parents do travel with her to & from NYC to Mumbai but she has no interest in American life. We see her get uprooted & the difficulties she faces when trying to hold on to her roots.

Grandma Rose- doesn’t come into the picture til’ we meet Chantal later in the book but I seriously LOVED seeing her duke it out with Ranee for title of best grandma. Grandma Rose is black & is very involved in Chantal’s life. I loved seeing her pride & confidence in Chantal, she really is her #1 fan. Some of my favorite scenes were those between Rose & Ranee, these two had me smiling & shaking my head.

Rich in culture & family dynamics, You Bring the Distant Near is easily a top contender for my top 10 favorite books of this year. For any bookworms looking for #ownvoices reads, I highly recommend picking this book up. In just 320 pages we get wonderful character development & a ton of tough topics thrown in the mix making this one hell of a journey. I felt a range of emotions seeing this family try to set down new roots in a strange land while also learning to adapt when life throws you a curve-ball. I also found myself wanting more story once I finished reading & perhaps that’s due to how well it was structured. The alternating POV chapters between Sunny & Star and later their daughters Chantal & Anna really allow you to form attachments. This bookworm would love to see more of the Das family & their growing pains. I am so happy to have read YBTDN & wish only to see more from this author in the very near future *fingers crossed*

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing, Netgalley, and Mitali Perkins for the eGalley copy of You Bring the Distant Near in exchange for an honest review.

Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a wonderful weekend & managed to squeeze in some good books. You Bring the Distant Near is hands down a highlight in my October reading. Have any of you lovely bookworms had the chance to read YBTDN? or plan on adding it to your TBR? Sound off in the comments down below 😉


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25 thoughts on “Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins”

  1. Wow this book sounds incredible Lilly. I had no clue what it was about before I clicked on your review (before this I’d never heard of the title or seen the cover before) but now I just have to add it to my to-read list. There are plenty of diverse books out there but I haven’t heard of another one like this, that focuses on Indian culture, that focuses on three different generations with such detail like it sounds the author went into with this story. 🙂
    You Bring the Distant Near sounds amazing, and the fact that it such a strong family story is a major draw for me because the family dynamic is something I just love reading about. 🙂
    Great review Lilly. 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Beth! ❤ Out of all my blogger buddies, I knew this would appeal to you most of all! we both can appreciate a good book with amazing family dynamics/complex characters which this book has. I inhale read this book & was left feeling as if I were a part of the Das family *sobs* lol. I honestly wish more books like YBTDN got more praise and attention as they rightfully deserve. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I did when you get around to it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right. 🙂 And yes this book definitely appeals to me. I think any book with a strong family dynamic is one that will appeal to me but obviously I prefer ones where the development stands out like it really seems to with this book. 🙂
        Thanks Lilly, I hope so too! 😀 ❤


  2. Is this a part of a series? I am part of a comity that picks a book to read for the year with relevant issues. This looks like one I might want to pick up and see if I think it would be appropriate, but they can’t be part of a series!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As soon as I heard multigenerational, I knew I wanted to read this. You made it sound so wonderful, and I think it’s awesome that you could relate to parts of it. That always enhances the reading experience for me. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! ☺️ I LOVE a good multigenerational book with amazing characters such as in this book. You’re absolutely right, it def enhanced my reading experience being able to connect with some of these characters which goes to show that even when from another cultural background, we’re not that different 🙌🏼 I hope you enjoy this read as much as I did 💜


  4. I remember you mentioned on Goodreads how it was hard for you to write this review !! 😱👏 You did such a good job with all the characters analysis omgad ❤️😍 FAMILY DYNAMICS YESS A BIG YESS FOR ME 🤗 I havent read a lot of books on Indian culture either to be honest so I may start with this one 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always the toughest for me to write a review for a book I LOVED so much lol. It is absolutely better to just write it soon after when the feelings are still fresh. Surprisingly, days after finishing this boo, the characters were fresh on my mind as was their narrative. I look forward to seeing what you thing of this one and hope you enjoy the read as much as I did 💜


  5. Great review ❤ I've had this book on my radar for quite some time and your review has me excited about it, it sounds so goood! And the Indian angle makes it much more interesting imo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ooooh. This is a new book for me, but I already am completely in love with it! I am really interested in the multi-generational storytelling we are starting to see more and more of, like with Homegoing. I have definitely added this to my TBR.

    I’m impressed that Perkins brings 5 different characters to life so clearly for you in 320 pages! Do you think there is anything in particular which made this happen for you, Lilly?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Jackie, It may just be when I access WP at work it seems my replies aren’t going through. I just happened to pop in here to send this review to a publisher when I noticed my reply didn’t post 😦

      I have Homegoing at home & went as far as getting the exclusive edition from the U.K. but somehow it fell by the wayside. It is def on my TBR for this Winter season though. I was also left impressed with how well Perkins juggled 5 women over 3 generations but she did through alternating POV’s and it seemed effortlessly done. I Highly recommend this read to anyone who enjoys a good multi-generational diverse read 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can relate to that! When I use WP on my phone it sometimes decides a bunch of unread comments have been read (when they haven’t) and I lose them all. It’s frustrating.

        I think I’ll be reading this and Homegoing together in early 2018 to compare the two. I love the idea of multi-generational diverse reads. I want to compare apples to apples, so to speak.


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