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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Top Ten Tuesday 8/15/17

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Each week, a new topic is put into place and bloggers share their top ten accordingly. I LOVE lists, they keep me happy and I’m so glad to see this meme return this week after a mini hiatus. This week was a freebie of sorts where you are prompted to list 10 bookish recommendations. I’ve linked my reviews for each of these as well, please excuse the older reviews since I didn’t know what I was doing in terms of format, a year ago when I 1st started this blog lol. Here are my top 10 picks for this weeks topic (in no specific order):

August 15th 2016:Ten book recommendations for Bookworms looking for Diversity:

 

1. Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali

*features a Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager, her friends, family, and community. Janna Yusuf is like many other teenagers trandealing with social pressures, first love, and friendships. We follow Janna’s story as she tries to reconcile her wants with her faith. (Trigger warning: attempted rape) check out my review here.



2. You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner

* features a Indian deaf girl with 2 deaf moms & a honest f/f friendship with it’s ups & downs. Our main protagonist is skilled in Grafitti art & has a wicked sense of humor 😉 Check out my review here.

 

 


3. When The Moon Was Ours by Anna Marie-McLemore

* features a transgender Pakistani boy & LATINX girl as main characters in this Magical Realism story guaranteed to stir emotion. The writing is lyrical & lush with vivid imagery. Check out my review here.

 

 


4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

* A raw & moving read relevant to our current times. It’s hard to read THUG & not walk away feeling like you need to do your part in the Black Lives Matter movement. Check out my review here.

 

 


5. Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Córdova

* a LATINX Young Adult Fantasy with elements of Alice in Wonderland. This story centers around a young Bruja’s (witch) Death Day celebration which is a rites of passage. In the Authors Afterword, the ancestors who appear in this book are from Ecuador, Spain, Africa, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Check out my review here.

 


6. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

* features a Haitian main protagonist who leaves Haiti with her mother in search of a better life in Detroit Chicago. We get a different perspective on a religion we often see in mainstream media. The writing in American Street is a mix between Fabiola’s native culture and the raw grittiness of Detroits mean streets. Check out my review here.

 


7. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee 

* features a Chinese American teenager slayyyyying demons! centered around the Chinese tale of The Monkey King, this book offers up a kick a** protagonist who doesn’t take ish from anyone & I loved her! Check out my review here.

 

 


8. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

* features a gay couple with AMAZING parents who I wish we had more of both in real life & in our books. This book deals with grief & will leave you reaching for the nearest box of tissues. Check out my review here.

 

 


9. The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

* Lush with Persian influences & steeped in Indian folklore, this book will leave you questioning whether we are in control of our own fate. This book also features a positive f/f friendship & a beautiful father/daughter bond. Check out my review here.

 

 


10. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

* features a Chinese-American teenager in a gender bending story. Jordan Sun is on a mission to join Acapella in order to stand out in her college applications. The only thing standing in her way is that Acapella is all male only. When Jordan decides to dress as a boy in order to try-out, she wasn’t expecting to find a diverse cast of characters she feels most at home with. Check out my review here.

 

Happy Tuesday Bookworms!!! have you read any of the books I’ve listed? are you as excited as I am to have TTT back?!?! I guess I’m more excited than some since just when I started doing this meme again, the hosts announced their hiatus leaving me with a ton of unused excitement haha! 


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January Wrap-Up & Book Haul

January was a month of quality reads for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a month where every book I read, I loved. One thing is clear though, I am really enjoying Diverse reads and being able to relate to some of the characters. I am also still on a mission to lower my arc pile with the help of my handy spreadsheet lol & making progress. This however, has not stopped me from acquiring new books cuzzzz i’m a helpless bookworm who can’t resist good deals & steals 🙈🙈🙈 annnnnd let’s face it, February doesn’t look like it’s going to be a slow month in the book world either. Yet still, I do plan on mostly picking up those books that I’ve already read & loved in arc form in order to support the authors & cuz If I loved them so much, i’d like to own them 🤗😍🤗😍

I’m very happy that The Bear and the Nightingale & Gilded Cage are solid starters for series. I get to go back to these worlds/characters and see what they’ve been up to & I can’t wait! I also hope to see more from all of these debut authors, they were all seriously noteworthy for many different reasons. I’ve reviewed all and attached the links 😉

January also saw me host my very 1st giveaway (see here) and I am happy with the outcome. The winner of the Owlcrate giveaway was Naz @ ReadDiverseBooks, check out his wonderfully diverse blog for all things diverse reads! The next giveaway will most likely be in May to celebrate my 1 year blogoversary and there will be 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place prizes 🙂

 

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 Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

 American Street by Ibi Zoboi  ★★★★ (4STARS)

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden   ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

The Education of Margot Sanchez ★★★★ (4.5 STARS)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas  ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

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*These 3 were Goodreads wins, your girl was a bit lucky this month (thank the Book Gods)

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall 

The Story Of  New Name (The Neapolitan Novels #2) by Elena Ferrante 

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante 

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The Bear and the Nightingale (the Bear and the Nightingale #1) by Katherine Arden

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi 

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney 

Good As Gone by Amy Gentry 

Wires and Nerve (Wires and Nerve #1) by Marissa Meyer

City Of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

Arabella of Mars (The Adventures Of Arabella Ashby #1) by David D. Levine

Frost Blood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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January’s Book Of The Month, I went with Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk and added Good As Gone for $9.99. BOTM gifted their subbies Gillian Flynn’s The Grownup 🙂

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I purchased these two lovely Book Biff’s from Breanne over at BizzyLittleB, she was very sweet & filled my custom order very quickly. Currently she isn’t taking custom orders due to starting a new school semester but she’ll be back & i’m keeping an eye out for when she does 😉

what-i-watched-bannerunderworldbwposterI managed to squeeze in a movie with the hubby this month. We went to see Underworld Blood Wars & although it was enjoyable we felt it wasn’t the strongest film in the franchise. That’s tough to say cuz I’m a HUGE Underworld & Kate Beckinsale fan. I’m still not giving up on Underworld & hope that the next one is re-vamped (hehe see what I did there smh).

maxresdefaultOn the TV front, i’ve admittedly fallen behind on a lot of my shows since they returned from Winter break but the DVR is working over time saving them for me. However, I have returned to one of my faves Vikings Season 4 (link to IMDB) & i’m once again hooked. Team Lagertha all the way & I really hope they don’t kill off my boo lol 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼

As has been the case these past couple of months, I’m a bit late with this book haul/wrap-up but i’ve been catching up with some of yours. Seems like for the most part, January was all about getting back in the swing of things. Love seeing how your January went & wish all my bookish peeps happy reading in February <3’s!

 

Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

30256109American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Published by: Balzer + Bray/ Harper Collins 

Publication Date: February 14th 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary/Diverse/Own Voices

Pages: 336 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★ (4 STARS)

*Click on cover for Goodreads

Thank you Balzer + Bray, Harper Collins, and Ibi Zoboi for the eGalley of American Street in exchange for an honest review.

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On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

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American Street tells the story of Fabiola Toussaint, a young teen who has returned to the United States with her mother in search of a better life or as they’ve come to call it, Une Belle Vie (a good life). Fabiola was born in the states however, her mother took her back to Haiti when she was still a baby. Fabiola was raised in Haiti where she and her mother are all they have. The books opening scene takes place in the airport, Fabiola and her mother had just landed and were to be picked up by their family in Detroit Michigan. Immigration however, detains Fabiola’s mother on grounds of suspicion to stay in the country longer than her Visa allows. In years past, Fabiola’s mother had stayed in the country with an expired Visa and she was thought to be returning with the intent to stay. Fabiola is forced to go on with her American family-her 3 cousins and aunt. She was in her last year of High School and is to finish in the states as planned by her mother and aunt. Fabiola’s mother is taken to a detention center in New Jersey where her fate is unknown and there is no way of communicating. Getting updates on her status is made extremely difficult & Fabiola’s aunt Matant Joe wants her to focus on school while she attempts to help her sister, Fabiola’s mother. We follow Fabiola’s journey in Detroit, she speaks English very well since her aunt paid for her to receive the equivalent of an American education while in Haiti. However, Detroit looks nothing like Haiti-not the land, people, food, or customs. Fabiola’s dream of a better life never had a chance to manifest before it was taken away. While in Detroit she tries her best to fit in with the family she has now been thrust into and attend school. All the while thinking of ways to get any bit of information on her mothers status & how she can get her out of the detention center. Fabiola’s family in Detroit love and accept her however, they have fallen to the gritty life of Detroit’s streets and it proves almost impossible for Fabiola to stay out of their dealings. Matant Joe has had to survive and care for her 3 girls as best she could all the while financially supporting her sister and Fabiola in Haiti. When the truth unravels, Fabiola finds herself at a crossroads. How far will she go to help her mother?

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I’ve read a ton of Fantasy and therefore, have come across many heroines and strong leaders. However, I have never come across a stronger protagonist in contemporary Fiction let alone Young Adult. Fabiola is loyal and strong in her ideals, spiritual beliefs, and love for her family. She takes the lemons she’s been given and proceeds to turn them into lemonade. We never get the sense that she is giving up on her mother or her current situation. She is observant and strategic, with one goal in mind. I admire Fabiola’s determination to maintain her identity; from the language she speaks, to the spirits that guide her, and the flavor with which she cooks food for her cousins and aunt. We also get introduced to & follow Fabiola’s three cousins Primadonna, Chantal, and Princess AKA The Three Bees. They are known for intimidating those around them and NEVER EVER allowing either one of them be disrespected. They value family over everything and in order to survive the ruthlessness of Detroits streets, have built a reputation for being untouchable. Primadonna is known as the beauty for her fashion sense, we see her journey through an abusive relationship. Chantal is known as the brains, she has sacrificed the opportunity to go to a prestigious University in exchange for staying close to home to care for her mom and sisters. Princess is known as The Brawn and goes by just “Pri”, she is the muscle and we see her deal with her sexuality. Matant Joe, Fabiola’s aunt isn’t in too many of the scenes for health reasons but nonetheless we feel her strong presence over her household. She’s been through a lot since she arrived in the states herself and it has all taken a toll. All of the characters in this book are strong in one way or another. They all are chasing a dream whether it’s theirs or their parents. In the end I was left wanting more for all of the girls who lived in the house on the corner of America and Joy Street…

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The writing in American Street is a mix between Fabiola’s native culture and the raw grittiness of Detroits mean streets. Fabiola’s religion is that of Voodoo & we get a different take on it from Fabiola than what is portrayed in main stream media. Fabiola is very vocal about the fact that her religion is not all that is seen on tv. She speaks of the different spirit guides and what they are known for. One in particular is Papa Legba the watcher of all crossroads, this is the spirit guide we see throughout the book and Fabiola believes is there to show her the correct path. I LOVED the parts we got to see and learn about Fabiola’s religion, i’ve always been very open minded and I was able to recognize many of the names for her spirit guides who go by other names in other religions. This book is also a very fast paced read and I found myself flipping the pages almost too quickly. In between chapters we do get a couple of pages where we are given a bit of story from the perspective of one of the supporting characters. Giving us backstory on events that have shaped them into who they are now and the actions they have taken to survive in a concrete jungle. I do wish we had seen a bit of Fabiola’s mothers story, its not often we see such close bonds between mother & daughter like Fabiola and her mom. I can’t speak too much on the ending for fear of spoilers but I will say that by the end of this story, Fabiola isn’t the same girl her mother last saw in the airport. We do get some character development in a very realistic sense. This is a story of new beginnings after all your dreams have been shattered. It’s not an easy one but life for immigrants/emigrants rarely is…

I recommend American Street for readers who are looking for cultural and socio-economic diversity. Readers who want a realistic portrayal of what its like for immigrants & emigrants leaving the familiar for the foreign. Lastly, I recommend this book to those with an open mind and an open heart