A GIRL LIKE THAT
by Tanaz Bhathena
February 2018 – Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Macmillan (US)
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 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.
Tanaz Bhathena’s debut novel glows with energy as it tells a captivating modern forbidden love story. The riskiness of young love in Saudi Arabia creates a dark, high-stakes story in which the lovers have everything to lose.
Tanaz Bhathena was born in Mumbai and raised in Riyadh, Jeddah and Toronto. She is the winner of the 2009 MARTY for Emerging Literary Arts, a semi-finalist for the 2013 Jeffrey Archer Short Story Challenge and the Readers’ Choice pick for the 2015 U of T Magazine Short Story Contest. Her short stories have appeared in various journals, including Blackbird, Witness and Room Magazine. This is her first novel.
press and publicity:
• Bustle’s “27 Most Anticipated YA Contemporary Books Hitting Shelves In 2018”
“Bhathena makes an impressive debut with this eye-opening novel about a free-spirited girl in present-day Saudi Arabia. Orphaned at a young age, Zarin Wadia moves in with her uncle and abusive aunt, who constantly shames and beats her. “Some people hide, some people fight to cover up their shame,” Zarin explains. “I was always the kind of person who fought.” Her treatment at school is even worse—she’s shunned for being different (she’s Zoroastrian, for starters) and responds by smoking cigarettes and sneaking out with boys. After Zarin gets reacquainted with a childhood friend, Porus, she becomes dependent on him for escape, protection, and the type of gentle affection she has not felt since her mother’s death. Readers know from the outset that Zarin and Porus die in a gruesome car accident, and their reflective post-death narratives share space with chapters written from the perspectives of others in their orbits. Bhathena’s novel should spur heated discussions about sexist double standards and the ways societies restrict, control, and punish women and girls.”—Publishers Weekly, STARRED
“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 and Goodbye Days
“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