I’m super excited to be part of the blog tour for Tanaz Bhathena’s stunning new book, A Girl Like That.

Title: A Girl Like That
Author: Tanaz Bhathena
Rating: 9
Film Rating: PG-13 for drug use, sexual assault, and abuse
Source: Raincoast Books for review

Description from Goodreads:

A timeless exploration of high-stakes romance, self-discovery, and the lengths we go to love and be loved. 

Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school.  You don’t want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

This beautifully written debut novel from Tanaz Bhathena reveals a rich and wonderful new world to readers. It tackles complicated issues of race, identity, class, and religion, and paints a portrait of teenage ambition, angst, and alienation that feels both inventive and universal.

What I Thought:

Knowing that the main characters will die at the end of the book still didn’t quite prepare me for it. (Which in my opinion was testament to Bhathena’s writing!)

This book was fascinating, frustrating, informative, and enlightening. Seeing the intersection of Indian (Zarin and her family are Indian, and she goes to an Indian school) and Saudi cultures, the differences and similarities, and how the characters have to navigate those differences, were things I haven’t ever read about before.

The examination of double standards for boys and girls was very well done – and the way that Zarin notices and at times calls it out (and is ignored) made me both proud and profoundly sad. It basically boiled down to boys will be boys, and girls, if you look a boy in the eye, then you’ll get what you deserve.

The characters were very well written – no one was perfect, everyone made poor choices, people let you down, and you felt pity for even the most heartless.

One of the most tragic things is that while in Saudi Arabia and the Indian community Zarin is considered “a girl like that,” in most Western cultures her behaviour – looking boys in the eye, going on dates, even smoking, would not be grounds for ostracization.

Having lived overseas (in Hungary) during high school there were quite a few moments I could relate to – not being able to talk to the authorities, living in a community of ex-pats, and culture shock, among other things.

This was a really great book!

I was also super excited that Tanaz was able to answer a question for me for this blog post:

Q: Were there any specific incidents in the book that came from your own experiences in Jeddah?

A: While no specific incident in the book exactly mirrors my own experience in Jeddah, you will find me woven through in bits and pieces. Zarin being questioned about her religion as a child came out of my own experiences of being asked about Zoroastrianism and facing someone else’s disbelief about it being a real religion. You’ll also find me in Mishal and some of her experiences, especially with her struggle to follow the rules and her subsequent anger at the double standards with which boys and girls are treated in society.

 

*My blog today is just one of the many awesome stops on this blog tour! Make sure to check out the others!

Buy It Here:

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