Title: You Bring the Distant Near
Author: Mitali Perkins
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
This book follows three generations of Indian-American women and their struggles with culture, friendship, family, love, race, and identity. It opens in 1965 when Ranee Das and her two daughters, Sonia and Tara, are moving to the United States where Mr. Das has found work. It follows the lives of Sonia and Tara as they adjust to a new culture and school, pursue their dreams, fall in love, and grieve over their father’s death. About halfway through, the book begins following the lives of Anna, Tara’s daughter, and Chantal, Sonia’s daughter.
You Bring the Distant Near is certainly a character-driven book, but it is my no means uninteresting. Mitali Perkins does a wonderful job of crafting an interesting and inspiring story, of making us care about her characters and feel like we know them. She shows us her characters’ hopes, dreams, failures, and flaws; their greatest joys and their greatest struggles.
Tara has always wanted to act, but her mother expects her to marry or become an engineer or doctor, like a good Bengali girl. Anna, Tara’s daughter, just started attending her cousin’s school in America and struggles with feeling overshadowed by her cousin Chantal. Chantal comes alongside her cousin and makes her feel welcome in the school, even though she doesn’t share in Anna’s personal struggles.
Mitali Perkins gracefully and honestly addresses issues of race, prejudice, and relationships in You Bring the Distant Near. She acknowledges these important part of her characters’ stories and struggles, and represents her characters admirably.
You Bring the Distant Near is one of my favorite books, for the characters, the settings, the struggles, and the writing. It tells a story that many can enjoy, and also identify with. It has received awards and acknowledgements such as the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Boston Globe Best Book of the Year, and South Asia Book Award. I would recommend this book to fans of Piecing Me Together, The Hate U Give, Salt to the Sea, and American Street, as well as anyone who enjoys beautiful story full of character
Have you read You Bring the Distant Near? Do you prefer character-driven or plot-driven stories?