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A Girl Like That Hardcover – February 27, 2018
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—When Zarin and her friend Porus die in a car accident in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, everyone, from the religious police to Zarin's classmates, is suspicious—was Porus one of Zarin's many romantic liaisons? Only the deceased teens know the truth, and as their spirits hover above the wreckage, they look back on what led up to this point. Raised by her aunt and uncle, Zarin knows that her origins are a shameful secret to her family ("Illegitimate. Half-Hindu. Gangster's daughter."). Her domineering aunt, who fears seeing Zarin follow the same path as her "loose" mother, keeps a tight grip on the girl, to no avail. After the teen and her family move from Mumbai, India, to Jeddah, she defies convention, dating boys and smoking, but reconnecting with gentle Porus, who's been entranced by Zarin since they met as children. He helps to soften her hard exterior. Bhathena's lithe prose effortlessly wends between past and present. This contemplative novel is primarily narrated by the two young people, both outsiders as non-Muslims and Indians in Saudi Arabia, but the author also incorporates the perspectives of "insiders": Zarin's ex-boyfriend Abdullah; his righteous sister, Mishal, who bullies Zarin for her wayward behavior; and Farhan, the popular but predatory student on whom Zarin nurses a crush. Though these many voices aren't always distinct, together they portray a restrictive society that attempts to subdue every woman, whether a stickler for the rules like Mishal, or a rebel like Zarin. VERDICT A powerful debut; for most collections.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
“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.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Bhathena’s lithe prose effortlessly wends between past and present . . . A powerful debut.” ―School Library Journal, starred review
“Featuring a diverse cast of Arab and South Asian characters of various classes and faiths, the story is a gripping and nuanced portrait of how teens, both boys and girls, react to patriarchy. . .a fast-paced, fascinating read about a community rarely seen in young adult novels in the West. A refreshingly nuanced narrative about gender in the Middle East.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Shines a light on a girl caught between global modernity and traditional mores.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“With her debut novel, written in a chorus of voices, Bhathena enters the YA scene with a bang, writing complicated characters with mastery and nuance . . . Bhathena writes her elegant, lyrical sentences with command, and though there’s certainly tragedy in Zarin’s haunting story, there’s plenty of hope, too.” ―Booklist
“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.” ―Jodi Picoult, #1 NYT Bestselling Author of Small Great Things and Leaving Time
“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.” ―Jeff Zentner, Morris Award-winning author of The Serpent King
“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.” ―Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of Firsts
“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.” ―Laura Ruby, Printz Award-winning author of Bone Gap
Top customer reviews
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A must read but a devastating one nonetheless.
A well written, beautifully intricate plot and takes you on a wonderful journey through the eyes of well defined and richly layered characters. A book that keeps you hooked from the get go...do yourself a favor and buy this book to get to know more about a girl like that!
Tanaz Bhathena writes complicated girls with such mastery and complexity. Zarin is not your traditional female protagonist, and I loved her for her feisty, rebellious, spontaneous nature. I liked that she wasn't perfect and was sometimes cruel to the people who loved her, because this just made her feel more real. I wanted to underline so many passages in this book, because so much struck a chord with me. Not to mention, the writing is utterly beautiful. Tanaz writes with such elegance and command, and is able to use language in such an original way.
Everything about A GIRL LIKE THAT is incredibly evocative, including the setting in Jeddah, which plays its own role in the story as much as the characters. I felt totally transported to a place and culture I have never visited, but could visualize so well in my head thanks to rich, lyrical details.
I don't want to give too much away, but A GIRL LIKE THAT doesn't shy away from heavy issues. It's a brave book, a story that will resonate with so many readers. I can't wait to read whatever Tanaz Bhathena writes next.
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