Mini Book Review | A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhatena
I finished this book a week ago and am I still thinking about it? Yes. I. AM. I am not yet over it. I still have a heart ache and I still think, 'is it really like that?' The only reason why I cannot just give this book a whole 5 star rating is because I'm still unsure where life in Saudi Arabia is as hard as it has been portrayed in the book. Quite a handful Goodreads reviews tells me that it is not as harsh as it is in the book.
Keeping my views about Goodreads reviews aside, I tremendously loved this book. This book narrates the story of sixteen year old Zarin. A brilliant girl and a bad girl. A Girl who has been labelled so by everyone. A Girl who has voluntarily decided to be a bad girl. A Girl you should not be friends with. And this is the story of a girl Like That. And why is she like that? The author traces Zarin's story by giving her readers multiple characters' point of view about Zarin and how everything led to an uneventful day in Zarin's life. An expat from India, living in Saudi Arabia's Jeddah, Zarin knows little about her birth parents; knows little about her aunt and uncle who have adopted her reluctantly; does not know why her aunt hates her own sister, Zarin's mother, and beats her ruthlessly. With all these contempts and backlashes she faces in home, Zarin had decided to turn into a Girl Like That. A girl who smokes cigarettes and a girl who goes on dates and indulges in all those things that a girl 'should not.'
Tanaz Bhatena has spunned a story that will pierce through your heart. If you plan to read this book then here's a trigger warning - the book has date rapes. I was too disturbed by some incidents in the book. Also, I got to know a lot about the restrictions imposed in Saudi Arabia. From the notorious 'Mutaween' or religious police to the strict laws probiting women from doing a lot of things, from the segregation of expats in schools and neighbours to the segregation of freedom enjoyed by the two genders, I now know a good deal about Saudi Arabia. But how much of this is true I have no idea (refer to some Goodreads reviews by readers who claim to be from Saudi Arabia).
I chose to read this book after a lot of contemplation (refer to my previous blog post titled 'The Books I'm Reading for Femme March Fest and Why I Chose Them') and I'm glad I read it. Also, this is my 2nd book for Femme March Fest readathon.