I received an ARC of this book from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.
Title: You Bring the Distant Near
Author: Mitali Perkins
Publisher: September 12, 2017
Publication Date: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
When a book grabs hold of you and keeps you engaged right up to the end, it is safe to say that it is going to be a favourite. You Bring the Distant Near is a beautifully written saga that tells the story of the Das family and their experiences immigrating to the United States. Told in alternating perspectives, Perkins gives her readers so many unique and interesting points of view through her well-developed female characters. The Indian customs and culture that are told throughout this story are so insightful and add to the magic of the narrative.
Having never read any of Perkins’ novels before, I was so thrilled to read the delightful You Bring the Distant Near. The writing is absolutely breathtaking and the descriptions of the various settings are vividly told. Most of the story takes place in the United States, which has a setting that is relatable to some. However, when the story shifts to India, it is as if you are transported along with the characters, as they are reacquainted with their old ways of life.
It is hard to choose which of the five Das females is the one that I enjoyed learning about the most. Each of these ladies have such different personalities, that as the events unfold, you really get a taste for the different perspective each one brings. Ranee, the grandmother, is the character that definitely surprised me the most. She is so head strong and stubborn in her desire to ensure that her daughters maintain their Indian culture as much as possible. Ranee is the one that definitely goes through a significant transformation and is such a fun character to read about.
The one thing that gives You Bring the Distant Near its unique flavour is the way Perkins has added bits of Indian life into the book. The Indian phrases and pronouns that the family uses are seamlessly included in the story. They are explained in a way that helps readers unfamiliar with certain words to understand their meaning without distracting from the narrative. Food plays a large role in the book, and you will be salivating for a taste of Ranee’s infamous chicken by the end of the story. Even the clothing that is so important to all of the females in the book, adds a feeling of culture and personality to the story. Also, the music that plays a large part of maintaining the family’s heritage almost seems to play in the background as you are reading.
If you are looking for a diverse read, You Bring the Distant Near is the one that should be at the top of your list this fall. The writing is gorgeous and the characters are so relatable and interesting. All of the Indian culture that is sprinkled into this book will have you lusting for a taste of the food, clothing and traditions yourself.