Girl Like That
by Bhathena, Tanaz






Labeled as a troublemaker in spite of her bright mind, sixteen-year-old Zarin, a teen living in Saudi Arabia, engages in a forbidden relationship with a Parsi boy before a tragic accident brings everything others believed about her into question.





TANAZ BHATHENA was born in Mumbai and raised in Riyadh, Jeddah and Toronto. Her short stories have appeared in various journals, including Blackbird, Witness, and Room Magazine. A Girl Like That is her first novel.





With her debut novel, written in a chorus of voices, Bhathena enters the YA scene with a bang, writing complicated characters with mastery and nuance. Starting with the aftermath of a car accident that kills the two main characters, Zarin and Porus, A Girl like That doesn't begin in a traditional way, but Zarin is not a traditional girl. As she narrates her chapters from a spiritual plane, her sensitivity, rebellious nature, and anger slowly come to the fore. The novel's backdrop, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, emerges with fascinating depth, particularly when Zarin's Gujarati heritage sometimes clashes with Saudi Arabia's culture and strict religious protocols. Cultivating a cast of characters rarely seen in YA, Bhathena does a great job of juggling the five narrators' voices, each of which offers insight into Zarin's character and the events leading up to the death, all while touching on sexual assault and bullying. Bhathena writes her elegant, lyrical sentences with command, and though there's certainly tragedy in Zarin's haunting story, there's plenty of hope, too. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.





When Zarin Wadia dies in a car crash with a boy named Porus, no one in her South Asian community in Jeddah is surprised—what else would you expect from a girl like that? Originally from Mumbai, half-Parsi, half-Hindu Zarin moved in with her aunt and uncle after her mother died. The family relocated to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to escape rumors about Zarin's mother's death, plunging her into a world of abuse and gender-based restrictions against which she rebelled. It was only after Porus, a Parsi friend from Mumbai, moved to Jeddah for work that Zarin began to reconsider her behavior—and her capacity for love. Featuring a diverse cast of Arab and South Asian characters of various classes and faiths, the story is a gripping and nuanced portrait of how teens, both boys and girls, react to patriarchy (the novel contains graphic descriptions of abuse and sexual assault). Bhathena's prose can be stilted, and her excessive use of multiple voices limits both character develo pment and the resolution of some storylines. In addition, the beginning and ending chapters narrated by Zarin's ghost feel disjointed from the otherwise searingly realistic narrative. All in all, though, the book is a fast-paced, fascinating read about a community rarely seen in young adult novels in the West. A refreshingly nuanced narrative about gender in the Middle East. (Romance. 16-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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