Book Review: You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Book: You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Published September 2017 by Farrar, Straus And Giroux|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

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.

I really liked this book!  I’ve heard really good things about her books, and I happened to be browsing e-books on Overdrive, and knew I had to read it when I saw it.

I really liked seeing how connected all three generations of women were.  The multi-generational aspect shows up more in adult fictions, at least in my experience.  I really liked seeing it in YA, and I’m hoping we’ll see more multi-generational stories in YA in the future.

I really liked seeing how different all of them were, but being family really connected them in a way that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.  I thought Ranee was the most interesting- she really embraced American culture while still holding on to her Indian culture.  I really liked Anna as well, especially with her relationship with Ranee.  Anna really seemed disappointed that Ranee became an American citizen, and started adopting American customs and dress, but she still loves Ranee no matter what.

Something else that I absolutely loved was that they all identified as Bengali, but that there was no one way to be Bengali.  Each woman had their flaws but also their strengths, and they all had their own experiences with who they were and their own place in the world.

I will admit that the shift to Ranee was sudden, when the book, to that point, focused more on her daughters.  But I also liked that the book shifted to her because seeing more of her story really brought the stories of her daughters and granddaughters into focus.

I really appreciated the look at how to blend two different cultures- holding onto the culture of the place you grew up in while also trying to blend in and assimilate to a new culture.  I really liked seeing this aspect of immigration, and how moving to a different country can really change things.

I didn’t enjoy Chantal and Anna’s chapters as much as Sonia and Tara’s chapters, but I still liked them a lot, and how they still dealt with some of the things their mothers and grandmother did.  I loved the focus on family and family relationships and how much those family relationships can change over decades.

4 stars.  I didn’t love You Bring The Distant Near, but I did really enjoy it, and I think it offers something you don’t see a lot of in YA.  I loved the family and their relationships with each other.

Advertisements

Audio Book Review: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahira

the-namesake-coverBook: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahira, narrated by Sarita Choudhury

Published August 2006 by Random House Audio|10 hours, 5 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies established this young writer as one the most brilliant of her generation. In The Namesake, Lahiri enriches the themes that made her collection an international bestseller: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations.

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged marriage, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name.

Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along a first-generation path strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I liked The Namesake more than I thought I would!  It really made me think about immigrants, and the power of names and being a first-generation American.

It’s been quite a while since I finished this book, so it’s definitely not fresh in my mind.  But there are a few things that stood out, particularly with pet names and good names.  It’s sad that the staff at Gogol’s school didn’t understand the concept of the name, and Gogol seemed particularly confused by it as well.  I really liked that you saw how different things were for Gogol and his parents, and I felt like I was experiencing things alongside Gogol and his parents.  He didn’t choose his name, and you see that he has a really complicated relationship with it.

One scene that bothered me was when Gogol was at a dinner party, and one of the guests assumed that he didn’t need immunizations when he traveled to India with his parents because, and I’m paraphrasing, he’s from India. It was either his girlfriend or his girlfriend’s mother who said he was from the U.S. but even she didn’t seem sure. They were together for ages, and they were all living in the same house, and yet she had no idea where he was born.  Yes, he is Bengali-American, but they didn’t seem to grasp the concept that he still needed immunizations to travel to India because he has never lived there.  I felt angry on his behalf that people lacked understanding.  It was probably just an innocent question for them, and they likely didn’t think anything about it, but it still really upset me because it seemed so insensitive.

Since I went for the audio book, I’ll talk about the narration!  I honestly don’t remember much about the narrator, but I do remember she did a great job with the narration.  I felt like she was Gogol, and she really brought him to life. I don’t think I’ll necessarily seek out any books narrated by her, but if I were listening to a book narrated by her, I wouldn’t mind.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I really liked it, and I think, now more than ever, it’s important to read books like The Namesake.  I feel like I learned so much just from reading it.  What it’s like to be a child of immigrants is something I’ve never thought about- and never had to- but that’s why I’m glad I read it.