Book Name: A Girl Like That
Author: Tanaz Bhathena
Book Burb: 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.
Review: A Girl Like That recounts the tragic tale of two teens that are involved in a horrible car accident. Porus and Zarin’s tale is a heart-wrenching read of what it means to love under countless sanctions and continuous watchful eyes.
As usually happens, tongues get wagging and the tale is told in the run-up to the events that lead to the horrible accident.
Tanaz has written the novel in a racy style and it is full of colloquialisms and native words. The action never stops and there is enough emotion and drama in this tale to hook any reader. You cannot ask for a better debut novel. This book will have you turning the pages and like me, most readers ought to finish it in a single sitting.
“Illegitimate. Half-Hindu. Gangster’s daughter. I’d heard the words before.”
Zarin’s life isn’t sugar coated as is the norm for novels these days and resembles the life of other teenagers- full of grey areas and she has had her share of heartbreaks. The daughter of a not so pious man, Zarin struggles while living under the care of her aunt who isn’t very amicable. The lack of normal relationships and the protagonist attempts at finding love and a life for herself makes for a beautiful read.
Zarin’s life mimics the life of an average teen who seeks a meaningful relationship with Abdullah, her boyfriend who is solely interested in physical intimacy. With Porus, everything was different and while she wants to try everything, (who doesn’t at her age?) she is a goody, goody girl at heart. She displays empathy and the magical rendition of the interplay of various abusive relationships is sure to moisten your eyes.
“Abdullah laughed at me now. You’re talking about trouble? You’ll be in more trouble than me if we’re caught. At least I’m a Muslim. You’re not that; heck, you’re not even a Christian. You could die in an accident tomorrow, but you’d still get jack from the government. Let me think- what is the going rate for Parsi chicks found dead in ditches?”
Tanaz has risen up to the occasion and has written a tale from the depths of her heart. At the end of it all, almost every reader will ask the same question- can this be fiction?