Forward Me Back to You

Junior Library Guild Selection
Winner of the South Asia Book Award
School Library Journal Best YA Book of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Best YA Book of the Year
Now available in paperback!

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 Kolkata, India and is reluctant to take on his future. Since he knows nothing about his past, how is he supposed to figure out what comes next?

Robin and Kat meet in the most unlikely of places — a summer service trip to India to work with survivors of human trafficking. As bonds blossom between the travel-mates, Robin and Kat discover the healing superpowers of friendship.

At turns heart-wrenching, beautiful, and buoyant, Mitali Perkins' new novel explores the ripple effects of violence — across borders and generations — and how small acts of heroism can break the cycle.

Here I am reading the first chapter for Oakland Public School students.


 "... Simple prose belies complex themes around faith, service, personal identity, and trauma, and Perkins adroitly threads carefully balanced perspectives throughout the story and draws readers’ attention to cultural bias ... This timely, realistic story filled with lots of heart yet devoid of a pat ending is sure to capture readers’ interests and spark contemplative conversations around global issues and activism. A must-have for teen and new adult collections." ― School Library Journal, starred review

 "... [E]xpertly explores personal identity, faith, trauma and ethnocentrism, cleverly using a dual narrative to depict Kat's and Robin's individual points of view. Perkins also uses the teens' experience in Kolkata to highlight the way many view service when done in cultures other than their own. Forward Me Back to You respectfully tackles heavy issues with a poignant, honest and refreshing outlook. ―Shelf Awareness, starred review

"...The third-person narrative perspective is as accessible as it is literary. Perkins, who was born in Kolkata, India, knows how to write fiction about serious issues such as trauma, healing, identity, cross-cultural service, and social justice. Her inclusive, diverse characters leap off the page with distinctiveness and relatability. Perkins also does superlative work in creating characters of faith who pray, attend church and enact Christian principles. While there is an element of romance, this novel is about character growth, friendship, loyalty, self-discovery, and global awareness ... Unique and refreshing, Forward Me Back to You should bring even more fans to Perkins’s novels." ~ VOYA Magazine, starred review

"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." ~ Publishers Weekly

"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 ... Perkins' present-tense prose and the use of stage direction–like notations about scene locations work to give the book an ethereal tone, a dreamy contrast to the grit and sadness that the characters endure, and more reflective of the overall message of hope, connectedness, and love." ~ ALA Booklist

"Perkins 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." ~ Kirkus Reviews

"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 AIRPORT—DAY”). 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." ~ Horn Book

"What both protagonists face as survivors of different traumas are thoughtfully represented in Perkins’ considerations of a setting where adoption and sex trafficking go hand-and-hand and in her convincingly reflective teenage perspectives." ~ Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Mitali Perkins' new novel, Forward Me Back to You, is an epic and layered read of identity and family ... The narrative encompasses multiple characters, families and countries, which joins to form a compelling and compassionate story ... The courage of all the teens in this novel, as well as the empathy, compassion, and action that unfolds, further demonstrate that the youth can change the world for the better ... it’s such a page turner that once you get going, you aren’t going to put Forward Me Back to You down."  ~ Nerdy Book Club

 "The story is a page-turner, unfolding exotic locations and a multicultural cast of characters expertly balanced. The plot includes danger, adventure, suspense, humor, and a dash of romance—and it doesn’t go where you think it will." ~ Redeemed Reader

"[Perkins] brilliantly employs metaphor as she explores the theme of heroisms and what genuine, godly courageousness and justice-seeking entail." ~ The Banner

Here's a Promo Kit about me and my work.

Feel free to use this Common Core Teacher Guide created for the novel.

And here's another Discussion Guide to prepare for your cross-cultural service trip!

And here's the Audiobook narrated by Soneela Nankani.

Here's how I introduced the book at the National Book Festival

Suggestions for listening, learning, and action
Suggestions for listening, learning, and action

International Justice Mission (India): IJM uncovers cases of sex trafficking and supports local, national and specialized anti-trafficking police forces with rescue operations, helps with evidence collection and provides crisis counseling for survivors during rescue operations. IJM advocates support the prosecution of traffickers, pimps and other perpetrators, and our social workers help survivors who have chosen to testify prepare to share the truth in court. IJM partners with several aftercare homes in India to ensure that survivors have a safe place to live, and provide ongoing trauma therapy and vocational and educational support. They also equip local law enforcement partners with tools and training to combat sex trafficking, raise awareness and help others in the community respond.

Sari Bari: Sari Bari is an ethical fashion business that employs women who have been exploited in the sex trade or who are vulnerable to human trafficking. Women are trained as artisans to create handmade kantha products from recycled saris.

Mahima India: Mahima India supports Mahima Homes in providing specialized care for minor victims of sex trafficking as well as other children in need of care and protection under the custody of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).

Jatiyo Kristiyo Prochar Samity: JKPS believes in holistic transformation of the poor and marginalized and justice for the oppressed by empowering women to become entrepreneurs and restoring hope and dignity for survivors of commercial sex trafficking.

Dressember: Become an advocate to fight trafficking by joining this awareness campaign.


RAINN: Recovery after sexual assault: Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or text HELLO to 741741 (the Crisis Text Line) to speak to someone who can provide you with local information to get help as soon as possible.