Disobedient. Loose. Unruly. Slut. Labels- As much as you hate them, they stick to you. The more you prove to deny them, the more prominent they become. So, a certain 16 year old girl did not bother to defy them. Instead, one may think she lived to prove them right. Hence, more often than not, parents told their girls and boys to stay away from her stating the dangers of being around a girl like that. Tanaz Bhathena’s debut novel, A Girl Like That is a story of one such Zarin Wadia who lives a life on her own terms and does not shy away from the repercussions.
16 year old Zarin orphaned at a very young age lives with her Masa and Masi in the colourful but old-fashioned city of Jeddah. She often lands up in trouble due to her rebellious behaviour in school and at home. Spotted with notorious guys many times, Zarin is always the prime topic of gossip around the town. But beneath this aggressive and unruly layer, there is a sensitive teenager who is struggling to discover herself in a world that is run by rules and standards for everything. It is only Porus Dumasia, the Parsi Indian boy who sees what is not noticed by people busy putting labels. Porus, who believes in Shirin-Farhad kind of love, knows that underneath the tempestuous façade, Zarin is a girl like any other who misses her mother and longs for love in her life. She, like him, wants to stay in the past because that is where she finds happiness and love. The present is too tumultuous for both of them.
I absolutely loved the characters of Zarin and Porus. The other characters of Zarin’s Masa and Masi, Mishal, Abdulla and Farhan Rizvi are equally important and justify their part in the story. Though the story starts on a disturbing note, it creates enough ups and downs during the narration to keep you hooked till the end. Without the author’s magnificent storytelling style, this could have become just another rant of teenage problems of hormonal outbursts, drug abuse and sex overdose. But Tanaz Bhathena adds a sensitive angle to it and touches a sentimental note somewhere. And though the book is classified under the YA genre, it is very mature to engage older readers too. A very promising young author has entered the market and I know I will be among the first ones to pick up her next book.
About the Author: Tanaz Bhathena was born in India and raised in Saudi Arabia and Canada. She is the author of A Girl Like That and The Beauty of the Moment (forthcoming in 2019). Her short stories have appeared in various journals including Blackbird, Witness and Room. A wanderer at heart, Tanaz can often be found travelling to different countries, learning bits and pieces of a foreign language, and taking way too many photographs. She loves slapstick comedies and any kind of music that makes her dance. She lives in the Toronto area with her family. (Source: https://tanazbhathena.com/)
I received a free copy of this book from Flipkart in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.