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.
I received a copy of A Girl Like That from Netgalley. I requested this book because most of the books with Indian (diaspora) MCs, that I have read, are set in India, the US, or the UK. This book is set in Saudi Arabia.
This book is #ownvoices for Indian representation.
The writing style is excellent in this book. I like that throughout the book you don’t know for sure who will be the narrator of the next chapter. It provides a fragmented story, which is true to what the characters who are alive will have of Zarin. The voices are unique to each character, and some are very chilling. There was one person in particular whose perspective I found very jarring and creepy.
Zarin is a wonderful, nuanced character. She isn’t perfect and she makes sure that the reader knows it. It’s a story that depicts how difficult it is for someone to change who they are, if everyone has a preconception of you already.
There is foreshadowing for the attempted rape scene, and I started to get nervous when Zarin started to go out with a boy who had previously raped other girls. It’s a very chilling scene, and quite upsetting. However, I thought it was handled well. Nevertheless, it is crucial to mention that this book revolves very much around the topic of sexual assault as well as other types of violence.
I was very relieved that her ultimate death was not due to the attempted rape.
There are some ableist words used in this book, which are not called out. The book however also mentions that mental health issues are not taken seriously by many people, which I think is such an important point to note and something more people should think about.
I thought that A Girl Like That was a good book. The writing is wonderful. It’s a very sad book though, and it was difficult to read. It made me think. If you are able to read a book that focusses on rape and sexual assault, I think that A Girl Like That a good choice.
Are you going to read A Girl Like That?