A Girl Like That was written by Tanaz Bhathena. I read this book a while ago, but I have fallen behind with my review writing. I found this book on the new release shelf of the young adult section of my library. The premise interested me, so I added it to my pile.
The book opens with the deaths of the protagonist Zarin and her boyfriend Porus. Armed with this knowledge, the reader must delve into the backstory, which details the events that led up to this untimely demise.
Zarin is a teenage girl living in Saudi Arabia. She’s Indian, and she lives in an expatriate community with her aunt and uncle. She has already acquired a reputation by the time she meets Porus, but she is so much more than “the girl like that”. Her life is heartbreakingly complicated, and her story deserves to be told.
The story unfolds from multiple perspectives; not just that of Zarin and Porus, but others as well. In many ways, these teens are the same as their American counterparts, but in Saudi Arabia, boys and girls cannot even congregate together. This creates an interesting dynamic as the characters must skirt around the strict rules of the religious police.
As one might image, this is not a happy story, and some of the things that happen are quite heartbreaking. But as I read, I couldn’t put the book down; I was so riveted and I had to find out what was going to happen next. Zarin is a likeable narrator, and it’s easy to see how a girl can acquire a reputation without even trying.
I would absolutely recommend A Girl Like That. Zarin offers such a unique voice, and the narrative is so compelling. This book will most certainly appeal to the target demographic as well as fans of the young adult genre. This is a stunning debut, and I am looking forward to reading more from Bhathena in the future.