The Das family, from India, moves to New York City from London to follow the job of the father. When an accident puts a rift between the family, it affects three generations of them, with the single woman connecting them falling apart before their eyes.
Why this book?: I’d heard good things about this one, but also because LitCelebrAsian is reading it as their Feb/Mar book choice. It was also different than what I normally read, so I was excited to try a different genre.
The reason I’m not the biggest fan of multi-generational stories is the fact that they’re most likely slow paced, at least in my opinion, and that, also in my opinion, not much happens in them. In the last multi-generational story I read, Homegoing, each chapter was for a separate character, and though I loved the story, I never felt like I got to know the characters that well. The same happened with You Bring the Distant Near. Although it wasn’t paced and formatted the same as Homegoing, I still felt like I was constantly missing out on something.
What I struggled with the most was the fact that the narrative seemed to skip around the important events. As the reader, you never saw those critical events that define the characters, the plot, and even the eventual ending. The fact that we missed these scenes, only seeing the before and after, and not even the direct “after”, frustrated me. I felt like I was missing out on the important scenes, and that I was just getting the left overs. I don’t want to be rude, but the scenes I read felt like the ones that would have normally been cut out because of the lack of events within them.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy this novel though. While I didn’t get to see those defining moments, I got to see how the characters, Ranee, Sonia, and Tara were affected by them. It was really interesting seeing their growth as characters throughout the novel, especially Ranee. I did struggle with getting to know Shanti and Anna, though, because I don’t think I got enough time to understand them. As a reader, I only got to know the summarization of their personalities, rather than actually know them.
Final Rating: ★★★½☆☆
I personally struggled with the pacing and the layout of the settings, but I really loved the story, and know that it’s discussion on immigration and being multi-cultural is important. While I myself cannot say anything on immigration, I know that it’s an important conversation to be had.
Would I Recommend?
Based on the writing, characters, and story? I would only push this if you’re into slow and steady novels with characters that are basic yet entertaining. Based on the discussion on being multi-cultural, being an immigrant, or feminism? Definitely. While it’s a tricky novel to categorize, I can say that I’m glad I read it.
Published: September 12th, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Page Count: 303
Synopsis: via 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 her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.