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Review of You Bring the Distant Near

You Bring the Distant Near
by Mitali Perkins
High School    Farrar    305 pp.    g
9/17    978-0-374-30490-4    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-374-30491-1    $9.99

In 1973 the Das sisters, Tara and Sonia, with their mother Ranee, join their father in New York City. Ranee is determined that her family will take advantage of the opportunities America offers even as she tries to fight the “corruption” of her daughters’ cultural sensibilities (including making friends who are black). By the early eighties, after the family has moved to a “good” neighborhood in suburban New Jersey, Tara has embraced American style and confidently works toward a dream of acting, eventually becoming a star in India; while Sonia, to her mother’s horror, dives into the women’s rights movement and an interracial relationship. Two decades later, Sonia’s daughter Shanti and Tara’s daughter Anna each feels pulled in two directions. Shanti’s struggle is an internal one, between not being Indian enough or black enough even within her own family; and Anna’s is geographical, torn between her love of Mumbai, where she has spent most of her life, and New York, where she is expected to attend high school and college. If ever the intricate complexities of immigrant families living between homelands were in doubt — if there was some misconceived notion of a cookie-cutter experience when navigating borders and integrating cultures — Perkins has laid those doubts unquestionably to rest in an ambitious narrative that illuminates past and present, departure and reunion, women and family.

From the September/October 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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About Anastasia M. Collins

Anastasia M. Collins is a children’s literature scholar and academic librarian. She holds an MS in library science and an MA in children’s literature from Simmons College and the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature.

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