Book Review – A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
‘A Girl Like That’ is the debut novel by Tanaz Bhathena that deals with myriad issues like race, religion, misogyny, teenage troubles and seeks to address a bigger question – that of identity. The story begins with an accident, which kills sixteen year old Zarin Wadia and Porus. The incident sets off a barrage of doubts and questions – about her relationship with Porus and about her character. After all, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, morality is the prerogative of women to upkeep.
How did Zarin end up in Jeddah? She moved in with her aunty and uncle after the mysterious death of her mother (over an illegitimate affair). She is half Parsi, half Hindu; that too a gangster’s daughter. Her aunt, who is always fearful that Zarin will tread the path of her mother, keeps her under tight leash. Circumstances lead to the family shifting base to Saudi, where ironically Zarin finds freedom. In Porus, she finds a refuge – both being non-Muslims from India.
The novel is primarily narrated by the protagonists – Zarin and Porus – with several characters lending their perspectives as well. We have Zarin’s former boyfriend Abdullah; Farhan, the school heartthrob, Mishal, the bully. The various versions give us a clearer picture of Zarin, and the ‘type’ of girl she was. One often wonders if some of the experiences described in the book are autobiographical, or the author’s attempt at rebellion itself.
The book is a commentary of social norms and practises in contemporary Jeddah, and the daily struggle of women to exist in a restrictive society. The complex subject is dealt with deft maturity. Tanaz’s exemplary brilliant use of words makes this miserably tragic tale therapeutic. It takes a lot of patience and stoicism to breeze through the book.
‘A Girl Like That’ is a power-packed, emotive account of a girl trapped in a culturally alien country. It is also a tragic love story, presented in an unusual format. The gut-wrenching story of the rebel girl, Zarin, will you high and dry by the time you reach the last page.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
P.S. This review is part of the Flipkart Bloggers’ Affiliate Programme
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Posted on March 25, 2018, in Books and tagged A Girl Like That, blog, blogging, Book, Book Review, Bookreview, Books, fiction, Jeddah, review, Saudi Arabia, Tanaz Bhathena, Zarin. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.