Tag Archives: Set in Saudi Arabia

A Girl Like That (Hardcover) by Tanaz Bhathena

Summary: 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. It 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.


Jen’s Review-  This is a disturbing and heartbreaking debut that will make you ponder life in other places.  Zarin’s risks in this books are things that are socially ok in America… but in Saudi Arabia not so much.   From the moment you read the first chapter you know this book is going to end in tragedy, but how did it get to that point?  How did too beautiful lives end so violently… it builds an anticipation that I was not expecting.  You know it is going to end bad… but why?

This book received a lot of hate saying that it did not portray Saudi Arabia accurately.  So when I originally went into the book I told myself to throw any stereotypes I might have out the window and enjoy the book.

I enjoyed this book.  A lot.   Here is the thing, I don’t know what life in Saudi Arabia is like.  I was not born there and I have not visited.  I only know what I can read and see on the news and let’s be honest it is not the most flattering representation.    I can tell you that this book was heartbreaking and if it is accurate… well… you will have to read the book and form your own opinions.

The characters are rich with complexity and I fell for the characters, even the ones that made you cringe.  They are all just trying to live life to the best of their life circumstance.  This book touches so many complex issues that I really feel it is a must read books.  Especially if ever in your life you walked by someone and they whispered “a girl like that”