by Tanaz Bhathena
Narrated by Neil Shah, Soneela Nankani, Lameece Issaq, Firdous Bamji
Published 2018 by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
9 hrs., 20 mins Audiobook
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2018 Audiobook Challenge, 2018 New Release Challenge
A Girl Like That looks back on the events that led to Zarin Wadia being found dead in a car accident with a boy on a highway in Saudi Arabia through the eyes of multiple characters.
Language: PG-13 – There was a small amount of language but there are also some very crude conversations about girls.
Sex: PG-13 – Sex is mentioned several times and a theme of the book. There is also frank exploration of rape.
Violence: PG-13 – There is a fight, domestic abuse, and a car accident.
Drugs & Alcohol: PG – Drinking is mentioned and characters smoke cigarettes.
Purchase Recommendation: Supplemental, buy this if you think you can sell it to your library community.
I’ve never quite read anything like A Girl Like That. I know there are books out there set in other countries, but they are very hard to come by in YA and the ones out there are often written by white Americans who can only write from an outsider perspective. Reading this was both refreshing and challenging. This one is an investment for a couple of reasons. I spent some of my time researching some things I didn’t totally understand about Persian culture, Saudi Arabia, and Zoroastrianism. It also covers some very emotionally taxing topics. It’s an honest and raw look at traditional gender roles, cultural tradition, religious fundamentalism, and rape culture. What I found most interesting about this book is that it’s told from several different perspectives and they each give a comepletely different view of what happened. In the beginning, all the reader knows is that Zarin and Porus have died in a car accident and that people are talking about how scanadalous it is and that it was only a matter of time because of the kind of girl Zarin is. As book progresses, though, the reader learns about events in Zarin’s life from different perspectives and begins to piece together the whole picture. It’s a clever way to explore prejudices and how the way people present themselves doesn’t always reflect what’s happening in their lives. I did appreciate how straightforward Bhathena was when exploring rape culture and misogyny. It was hard to read, but worthwhile.
A difficult but worthwhile read exploring gender, tradition, and rape culture. Recommended if you don’t mind a more difficult read.