Title: A Girl Like That

Author: Tanaz Bhathena

Publisher:  Penguin Books

Rating: 4.4/5

A girl like that is a story of Zarin Wadia, a sixteen-year-old girl who is a bright and outspoken student with famous rumours of being a bad girl in the school. She is an orphan and lives with her Masi and Masa. Throughout her life, Zarin had suffered a lot. Zarin and her Masi had a great difficulty to get along with each other. Masi never liked Zarin because of two reasons. Firstly, Zarin’s mom was a bar dancer and secondly, Zarin’s father was a gangster who didn’t even marry her mom.

Earlier the so-called family lived in Mumbai, India but then they shifted to Jeddah in Saudi Arab. Zarin’s life was full of happenings. It wasn’t just her high-school life, but her Masi’s fake concern and doubts about her made her life miserable. Zarin’s childhood peeper-friend, Porus who then met her in Jeddah was a gift in her life. He made her feel safe.

Zarin never used to listen to her Masi. She was caught smoking on the terrace of her school. She went out with boys for dating and smoking. But she was the best school debater and her English teacher loved her for her pro-level command in English. Her schoolmates made her feel inferior and her life was shattered due to some mishappenings. It is a story which will compel you to think whether the girl was right or wrong because she did all the things that we are told that they are wrong. 

The ending will make you think that why did the story end? Why not more. There is no happy ending. In the end, there is curiosity and confusion among Zarin’s schoolmate and family.  

Through this story, the author has illuminated the culture and people of Saudi Arab. It will also tell how women are treated in Saudi Arab and how powerful it is to be just born a man. This book tackles unseen problems of race, identity and religion.

While reading it is hard to remember the side characters because there are many. It has an engaging writing style and the story is portrayed beautifully.

About the author

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.

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