Summary and book reviews of A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

A Girl Like That

by Tanaz Bhathena

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena X
A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 26, 2019, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag

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About this Book

Book Summary

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; 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.

Zarin

The wails Masi let out were so heart-wrenching, you would think I was her only daughter lying dead before her instead of the parasite from her sister's womb, as she had once called me. She should have been a professional funeral crier. Porus's mother knelt in a pool of his dark blood and joined Masi in a cacophonic duet. Masa was more somber. He dabbed his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt, took deep breaths, and tried to compose himself. The officer in charge of the accident scene told Masa that our corpses would be kept in a local morgue till arrangements for the funerals were made.

His loud voice floated upward to where Porus and I now hovered, a few meters above the wreckage on the Al-Harameen Expressway in Jeddah—completely dead, yet not entirely gone.

We stared at the scene below: Porus's smoking Nissan crumpled like a Pepsi can, the green-and-white squad cars, a flashing Red Crescent ambulance, the Saudi police in their long-sleeved khaki uniforms with ...

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Reviews

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Tanaz Bhathena's debut YA novel, told in flashbacks, gives life to a strong-willed, orphaned Zoroastrian girl living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In a stunning narrative that proves the necessity of more diverse, own-voices young adult fiction, the world of the reader is expanded while also showing so clearly that some things are truly universal.   (Reviewed by Michelle Anya Anjirbag).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A refreshingly nuanced narrative about gender in the Middle East.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Bhathena makes an impressive debut with this eye-opening novel ... Should spur heated discussions about sexist double standards and the ways societies restrict, control, and punish women and girls.

School Library Journal
Starred Review. A powerful debut; for most collections. Grades 8 and up.

Author Blurb Jodi Picoult, #1 NYT Bestselling Author of Small Great Things and Leaving Time
A Girl Like That is unlike any YA book I've ever read: a fascinating and disturbing glance into the gender discrimination and double-standards as seen through the eyes of a teenage girl in Saudi Arabia. It raised awareness for me, and is certain to inspire discussion and raise questions about equality, justice, and basic human rights.

Author Blurb Jeff Zentner, Morris Award-winning author of The Serpent King
Tanaz Bhathena has a rare ability to take a setting that would be unfamiliar to many and make it so instantly and profoundly relatable. This is a shimmering, glowing, radiant novel.

Author Blurb Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of Firsts
Vivid, intricately woven, and wholly immersive, A Girl Like That is a debut that will leave you both haunted and hopeful. Tanaz Bhathena is masterful at writing complicated girls and the people in their orbits.

Author Blurb Laura Ruby, Printz Award-winning author of Bone Gap
Masterfully constructed and gorgeously written, A Girl Like That is both a page-turner about a ferocious girl fighting the twisted expectations of both family and culture, and a thoughtful meditation on the pain that weighs us down, and the love that lifts us up.

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Beyond the Book

Zoroastrianism

FaravaharOne of the motivating factors for the various conflicts Zarin faces in Tanaz Bhathena's debut YA novel A Girl Like That, is that she is a Zoroastrian - a religion that is far less recognizable than some of the other major world religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or Hinduism. This is because, though it is one of the oldest monotheistic religions, it is now one of the smallest religions, with a reported 190,000 followers worldwide in 2006.

Zoroastrians worship in fire temples called agiaries which each hold a sacred fire. However, though some have represented Zoroastrianism as fire worship, that is not accurate. Rather, all of the elements are believed to be pure, and fire specifically represents God's light and ...

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