Title: A Girl Like That
Author: Tanaz Bhathena
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: February 27, 2018
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 tragic love story begins at the end. Zarin and Porus are killed in a car accident right at the beginning. The rest of the book looks back on their relationship and how they ended up in the car together.
I loved the way that Zarin’s character reflected the society she lived in. She would break the rules because she was so restricted, but her punishments meant she was given more restrictions. She didn’t have much control over her life, but she did extreme things when she could decide for herself. For example, she snuck around with the wrong type of boys. When she found one who was good, she didn’t love him. She smoked cigarettes, which made her an outcast in her classes. She didn’t have many on her side, even at home.
This story was set in Saudi Arabia. I’ve never read a book set there, so this was a new experience for me. One thing that stood out to me was the religious police. They would go and question any boy and girl found together and they would have to prove they were siblings. Right at the beginning, when the car accident happens, the first thing the police comment on is why Zarin and Porus were in the car together. It’s more important for them to learn why they were together, rather than the fact that they died. In those situations, even innocent encounters become dangerous.
I really enjoyed this story. I’m looking forward to reading Tanaz’s next book, The Beauty of the Moment.
What to read next:
The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
Have you read A Girl Like That? What did you think of it?