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Review: A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

Title: A Girl Like That
Author: Tanaz Bhathena
Year Published: 2018

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 369
Rating: 3.5/4 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)Saudi Arabia

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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 outspoken student, an orphan, a risk taker. She is 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 do Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together on 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.
Review: I was really looking forward to reading this book: romance, a little mystery, set in Saudi Arabia... what's not to like? Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.

I like the premise: an Indian girl living in Saudi Arabia (there is a decent size Indian population throughout the Middle Eastern countries) has a reputation for dating and "more." The book begins as she and her best male friend are killed in a car accident. We get to see the scene from their perspectives then the book tells about her life from various points of view. We learn that Zarin isn't what everyone thinks, not completely, and we discovered the sordid life that many of her classmates are living, especially the boys.

I just never connected to the characters in this book and couldn't quite see where it was going. I do think the handling of issues (sex, smoking, misogyny) were well handled, but it wasn't enough to totally get me on board.

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