On diasporic families in ‘You Bring the Distant Near’ by Mitali Perkins


“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 by Mitali Perkins

Published: September 12th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Source: ARC via Netgalley


I love diasporic stories about family. I didn’t realise immediately that this story would delve into different generations (I skim read the blurb) but I loved it for this reason too. Firstly, sisters in the arts! I don’t read enough stories about diasporic siblings with different pursuits in the arts. I appreciated the relatable moments around negotiating parent’s expectations and changing views.

I liked how the latter half of the story also delved into the family dynamics of a multiracial (Black and Bengali) family and tackled anti-blackness, which isn’t explored enough in stories. Tara’s family’s conversations also dove into the varied cultural and generational approaches to feminism.

In particular, the scene where Tara’s parents sent money back to their family in Bangladesh was one that I could also relate to as well. (My parents often sent money back to their relatives in the Philippines). In addition to an exploration of assimilation and its impact upon members of a family during this difficult time of loss and grief in later years. All of these small relatable moments that I never read enough of in stories, I read a reflection of. You Bring The Distant Near is one of my favourite historical YA books I’ve read this year.


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