A Girl Like That - Tanaz Bhathena | Blog Tour & Interview

Pages: 378
Publication: Farrar Straus Giroux
Release date: February 27, 2018
How I got the copy: Raincoast Books
Rating: 2/5

I had a hard time reading A Girl Like That because of its topics (as important as they are) and because most the novel was quite boring to me. There are multiple perspectives which I usually tend to enjoy but I felt some POVs weren't necessary. There's also the way the novel is structured that made it hard for me to read, I found it a bit scattered but by the end of the novel I did start to enjoy and connect with some of the characters. Ultimately, I don't think this novel was for me, I'm all about the enjoyability of novels and this is not easy to enjoy and there was no redemption.

A Girl Like That follows 16-year-old Zarin Wadia in Saudi Arabia, she's smart and a good student but also a risk-taker, troublemaker, and an orphan. Zarin lives with her aunt and uncle who are ashamed of her because of who her parents are and because Zarin is rebellious.

I found it very interesting to read a novel set in Saudi Arabia however it made it very difficult to read because of social norms. In this case, it caused the character so much unhappiness, abuse and, bullying because of her family's pasts instead of being seen as a separate person from her parents.  There's so much girl hate, judgment, gender-specific roles, and religion based rules (to each their own, everyone is allowed to have their own opinions about religion). I understand it's the culture but I just don't agree with how things were handled in this novel... At the least, it just blows my mind that there's so much girl hate in this novel and it's seen as okay.

As this novel is supposed to be a depiction of middle-class Saudi Arabia I feel for the women who are going through what Zarin goes through in this novel. She's bullied and an outcast for things that shouldn't define her.

For all that I've mentioned above, it made this novel is too long, too much of nothing happens and I wanted to just get to the point for the majority of the novel. As interesting as reading about Zarin's culture it was also infuriating. Actually, it was more infuriating to read how she was treated by everyone except Porus.

Sweet Porus gave me hope. Hope from everything negative I read and hope for Zarin's story before she died. I probably would have enjoyed the story more if there was more between Zarin and Porus but I already knew their fate so I guess it didn't really matter.

Perhaps it was flipping to different perspectives and not completely understanding where everyone came from but I felt a disconnect. Zarin's life is so sad and I felt for her because no one deserves to feel bad about their life because of where they came from. Like mentioned, I found the last quarter of the novel stronger and I found the ending to be very meaningful. It's well-written but I just didn't take anything away from it by the end.

A Girl Like That is about romance, self-discovery, and family. Trigger warning: sexual assault, rape culture, and abuse.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review*


What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
As a kid, I was fascinated by the way my dad conversed with shopkeepers and salespeople in their own languages. He wasn’t perfect—his Arabic was basic; he only knew a couple of words in languages like Tagalog, for example. But I was amazed by how he managed to bridge so many invisible gaps with a single friendly word in another language.

I find this true in literature as well. When used effectively in a book, another language can make you instantly connect to the world and the culture the author is trying to portray and enrich your reading experience. (Khaled Hosseini and Rohinton Mistry do this especially well.) Even before I started writing A Girl Like That, I knew I would be incorporating words and phrases from other languages in my work—because that’s how I speak! The world I grew up in was multilingual and I wanted to reflect it as best as possible.

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