Excerpt from A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Girl Like That

by Tanaz Bhathena

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena X
A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 384 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2019, 400 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


During our first week here, Masa had taken us to Balad, the city's historic center, on a friend's recommendation. "It will be like traveling back in time," the friend had said. And it was. If the glittering lights and skyscrapers of the Red Sea coast were the city's ornaments, then Balad was Jeddah's ancient, beating heart, its narrow streets linked to the main shopping square like arteries. The smell of roasted coffee and salt lingered in the air like perfume: at the souk, where men chewed miswak and hawked everything from ropes of gold jewelry to leather sandals; between alleys of abandoned old Hijazi homes, where veiled women with hennaed fingernails peddled potato chips, candy, and toys. We returned home at night, carrying bits of the old city back with us in plastic bags filled with roasted almonds and Turkish delight, in the green-glass bottle of jasmine attar Masa had bought for Masi from a local perfumery. The next day, however, Masi had complained about the smell of the perfume giving her a headache and tossed the bottle into the trash. It was the sort of happy day that had never happened again.

Now, my life having ended, I watched the police officer continue to interrogate Masa, while Masi watched him from a few feet away, her face pinched with worry. The look on her face reminded me of that Syrian boy from the Red Sea Mall. The one with the curly black hair, the hooked nose, and the scar over his left eyebrow. He was the first guy I'd ever gone out with after he'd thrown me his number, scribbled on a crumpled bit of notebook paper, from behind one of those fake, overly tall palm trees inside the mall. He was also the first guy I'd skipped school for, even though I never really had a crush on him. We'd spent most of the date driving in his car, nervously looking around for the religious police. There had hardly been any conversation; his English was bad, my Arabic even worse. We'd kept smiling at each other, until even smiling became awkward. I still remembered the end of the date: the way he whipped his head around to make sure the coast was clear, the slight furrow in his forehead, the quick, nervous kiss on my cheek. I was fourteen at the time.

Next to me, Porus let out a sigh. He was getting depressed and heavy. I could feel myself being pulled down with him. I had a very bad feeling that if we floated back down, we would be shackled to the scene of the accident forever.

"Let it go, Porus," I said. "We can't return. We must move on."

I took hold of his hand.

When I was nine, a high priest at the fire temple next to Cama colony in Mumbai made us write a description of what we thought happened after we died. Even though I knew that the exercise was pointless (no one in our summer theology class at the fire temple ever had the right answers to the priest's questions), I found myself writing out two pages. It was a fun change from the endless finger snapping to ward off satanic spirits and the droning monotone of prayer that formed the background noise of most of my vacations to India.

I wrote of souls the way I imagined them, featherlight and invisible, floating upward through a layer of clouds that looked like flat white cotton, but felt cool, misty, and very wet. By the time the souls would get through the cloud covering, their earthly clothes would be soaked with moisture. Then they would pass through a sunny, heated zone that smelled like toast, and then another cold, wet layer. Hot and cold, cold and hot, until the air thinned and the sky darkened from light blue to navy to black.

I wrote of outer space. Stars everywhere in diamond pinpricks. Bright white fire crackling in the tails of the comets. Meteors falling in showers of red, orange, and blue. Colorful planets revolving around fiery suns. The souls would continue ascending through this vast, glittering space for a very long time until they reached utter darkness and their heads brushed against something that felt like a ceiling: a delicate, thinly veined membrane that tore easily with a poke of a finger. Beyond that membrane lay heaven or hell, depending on how the souls had behaved on earth.

Excerpted from A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena. Copyright © 2018 by Tanaz Bhathena. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Zoroastrianism

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
    by Honorée Fannone Jeffers
    Honorée Fannone Jeffers' The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois explores the Black experience in ...
  • Book Jacket: Unlikely Animals
    Unlikely Animals
    by Annie Hartnett
    Though Everton, New Hampshire, the town in Annie Hartnett's Unlikely Animals, is fictional, it ...
  • Book Jacket: Shadows of Berlin
    Shadows of Berlin
    by David R. Gillham
    David R. Gillham's latest novel, Shadows of Berlin, opens in New York City in 1955. Rachel, a young ...
  • Book Jacket: Trust
    Trust
    by Hernan Diaz
    Hernan Diaz's Trust is a work of fiction that is itself comprised of four very different works ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Oh William!
by Elizabeth Strout
Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout explores the mysteries of marriage and the secrets we keep.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Metropolis
    by B. A. Shapiro

    "An ingeniously plotted hybrid social/suspense novel. Shapiro hits it out of the park."
    Shelf Awareness

Who Said...

People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T S's T Limit

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.