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Cover image for Forward me back to you
Forward me back to you
1st ed.
Physical Description:
415 pages ; 22 cm.
Katina King is having trouble fighting off the secrets in her past. Robin Thornton was adopted from an orphanage in Kolkata, India and is reluctant to take on his future since he knows nothing about his past. They meet during a summer service trip to India to work with survivors of human trafficking. As they discover the healing powers of friendship, their trip exposes them to the ripple effects of violence across borders and generations-- and how small acts of heroism can break the cycle.


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The award-winning author of You Bring the Distant Near explores identity, homecoming, and the legacy of assault in this personal and ambitious new novel. Katina King is the reigning teen jujitsu champion of Northern California, but she's having trouble fighting off the secrets in her past.Robin Thornton was adopted from an orphanage in India and is reluctant to take on his future. If he can't find his roots, how can he possibly plan ahead?Robin and Kat meet in the most unlikely of places--a summer service trip to Kolkata to work with survivors of human trafficking. As bonds build between the travelmates, Robin and Kat discover that justice and healing are tangled, like the pain of their pasts and the hope for their futures. You can't rewind life; sometimes you just have to push play.In turns heart wrenching, beautiful, and buoyant, Mitali Perkins's new novel focuses its lens on the ripple effects of violence--across borders and generations--and how small acts of heroism can break the cycle.

Author Notes

Mitali Perkins has written many novels for young readers, including Rickshaw Girl, a NYPL Top 100 Book; Bamboo People, an ALA Top 10 YA novel; and most recently You Bring the Distant Near, which was a Walter Honor Book, a National Book Award Nominee, and received six starred reviews. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India, and has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana. She currently resides in San Francisco.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Kat King, daughter of a single mom, thought her Brazilian jiujitsu training would protect her, until it didn't. Ravi Thornton thought the loving, well-off parents who adopted him from an orphanage in Kolkata, India, when he was three were the solid foundation for a satisfying life, until the need to find his birth mother overwhelms him. Fate sends Kat from Oakland, CA, to Boston where she meets Grandma Vee, aunt to her martial arts instructor and survivor of her own traumas. Kat's shocked that she was not believed by school officials when she views a video of a girl who escaped human trafficking in Kolkata. When she, Ravi, and Grace, another Boston teen, are invited to go to India as part of a mission in support of the rescue effort that produced the video, it's a siren call for all three. Narrated perfectly by Soneela Nankani, this tale of pain, hope and growing up in small, but important steps, will capture teens who come from different backgrounds, have experienced trauma, or are seeking a sense of cultural identity. VERDICT An excellent story, filled with vibrant and relatable characters that shows how powerful trauma can be, even when others might fail to understand, and the many ways healing can come about.--John R. Clark, formerly with Hartland Public Library, ME

Publisher's Weekly Review

Perkins's latest follows alternating protagonists: brown-skinned Kat, a superhero-obsessed, tough-as-nails regional jiujitsu champion and California girl with a single, white-skinned mother; and India-born superhero enthusiast Robin, adopted by wealthy white parents in Boston. After Kat fights off an attempted sexual assault by a popular athlete at school, her mother sends her east to stay with a family friend's great-aunt, Grandma Vee. Kat is angry at the world (at her mom for sending her away, at the "wolf" who attacked her), but when Grandma Vee asks Kat to visit with her friend Robin at her Christian church's youth group, she reluctantly complies. Soon, Kat gets pulled into a trip to fight human trafficking and serve victims in Kolkata-Robin's birthplace. While in India, Robin takes on his birth name, Ravi, and the two face their demons, meet family, make friends, and find the best inside themselves called upon. In fast-moving prose that is layered with emotion-rage, grief, dismay, hope, vulnerability, love-Perkins's novel pulses with heart and questions of identity as well as talk of faith, prayer, God, and social justice. Ages 14-up. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Perkinss story starts with Kat, a biracial scholarship student who lives with her single mother in Oakland and is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu champand who has recently fought off a classmates sexual assault. The first brief chapter ends with Kat deciding to report the assault, despite her attackers privileged status as a rich white jock. The next chapter begins in the Boston suburbs with Robinhimself a rich boy but with a very different backstory. Robin was born in Kolkata and adopted at age three by a wealthy white couple. His family is warm and loving; but, having just turned eighteen, Robin is restless to discover more about his origins, which motivates him to join his church youth groups summer service trip to India to help survivors of human trafficking. Kat, temporarily living with a family friend in Boston following her ordeal, goes too. Alternating chapters explore Robinsnow going by his birth name Ravijourney to learn more about his birth parents (and his somewhat delusional attempt to single-handedly bring down traffickers) and Kats quest to heal by helping other victims of sexual brutality. The issues are heavy, and the macro- and microaggressions are many, but the narrative tone is not leaden. The protagonists love of comics and movies supplies running jokes (i.e., Ravi resembles a Bollywood star), and Perkins provides cinematic information about setting (INT. KOLKATA AIRPORTDAY). Well-rounded secondary characters, including sweet-natured Gracie from Boston and eager would-be teen tour guide Bontu from Kolkata, deliver moments of levity and emotional support for the protagonists. elissa Gershowitz (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A summer church trip to Kolkata allows two American teens to serve, grow, and heal their own suffering in unexpected ways.Katina King is a 16-year-old Brazilian jujitsu champion, a scholarship student at an elite Oakland school, and the brown-skinned, biracial daughter of a single white mother. After a male student assaults her, Kat's anxiety, rage, and anguish disrupt her focus on winning matches and applying to college. Eighteen-year-old Robin Thornton was adopted as a toddler from an Indian orphanage by wealthy white Bostonians. He can't seem to find true belonging or be more than a rudderless sidekick to his white jock friend.When Kat's mother sends her to Boston for a break from Oakland, the teens meet, traveling to Kolkata with their pastor to work with survivors of child trafficking. Kat decides to teach the young women how to fight while Robin, now going by Ravi, hopes to find his birth mother. But they learn the hard way that they must first earn the trust and respect of those they serve and that service may be very different from what they imagine. Perkins (You Bring the Distant Near, 2017, etc.) celebrates Christian faith, superheroes, and Kolkata life through the interleaved perspectives of sympathetic and earnest protagonists and in simple language that speaks straight to the heart.A hymn to faith, friendship, and social justice, sung by gentle men and strong women of many colors and ages. (Fiction. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

A budding romance, a richly evoked setting, and beautiful intergenerational relationships pepper this story set half in Boston, half in Kolkata, about teens on a church-sponsored trip to assist an anti-human trafficking organization. This is a surprisingly sweet and delicately plotted novel. Kat, a multiethnic California transplant, is finishing her junior year in Boston after experiencing trauma. Indian-born, adopted Robin, whose parents are white, is struggling to reconcile his desi identity. His lifelong friend, Mexican American Gracie, harbors a deep crush and secrets of her own. The teens set foot in Kolkata with heroic aspirations Kat intends to teach martial arts, and Robin has a plan to track down his birth mother but quickly their weeks in India become more about growing as people through hard work, vulnerability, and trust. Perkins' present-tense prose and the use of stage direction-like notations about scene locations work to give the book an ethereal tone, which is in dreamy contrast to the grit and sadness that the characters endure and is more reflective of the overall message of hope, connectedness, and love.--Heather Booth Copyright 2019 Booklist

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