Friday, November 24, 2017

2018 Most Anticipated - A Girl Like That

The next book on my 2018 Most Anticipated list made me make this face when I read the synopsis:

The book takes place after the character the story is focused on has died in an accident. It's not a spoiler as the synopsis tells us this before we even open the book. Piecing this character's life together is the jumping off point of the story. I was immediately intrigued by this and wanted to know more. Once the STUNNING cover was released I was even more excited to get my hands on a copy.

The Goodreads synopsis should immediately make you rush to add it to your 'to be read' list.
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. 
The phrase "girl like that" is instantly recognizable to people. It may mean different things to different people but the gist is the same. She is someone who is looked down upon. She's trouble in some form. Unpacking this and showing that 'a girl like that' is something more is exactly the kind of book I am here for.

It  sounds like this is going to a book that is an excellent pick for book clubs, and one that will ignite conversations. I, personally, cannot wait to read this as the buzz so far has been incredibly positive.

Tanaz was kind enough to share a few secrets about A Girl Like That in a Q and A that I found to give a great tease for the novel! Oh, and Saudi champagne sounds delicious.

1 What gif do you feel represents A Girl Like That?

2 If someone were to make a signature cocktail in honour of your book, what might be included?

It would have to be the very popular non-alcoholic Saudi champagne, a mixed drink of apple juice, sparkling water, cut up fruit (apples, oranges) and mint, that’s sold throughout the Kingdom.

3 Was is one surprising thing you discovered while researching any part of your novel?

Since the current version of my novel is set in 2014 and I lived in Jeddah during the 90s and early 2000s, I had to research to see how various familiar locations had changed and the differences always surprised me. But then I would come across a certain landmark or an article about Albaik still being everyone’s broasted chicken of choice and I would laugh—some things never change!

4 Your novel focuses mainly on a character who we know is dead even before we open the novel (if we've read the synopsis). Were there challenges to writing a novel whose 'main character' was dead from the beginning of the novel?

Zarin being dead did not hinder me in the least. Her voice was incredibly strong from the very first line and I knew I was going to enjoy writing her—even more so, dead. Discovery is part of the writing process for me (I get bored otherwise), and the deaths of Zarin and Porus always kept things in suspense, revealing new aspects of a world that I thought familiar.

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

There are days I think that I’d maybe travel back to my childhood in the 90s for a bit because life was so much more carefree back then. (But then I think of algebra and board exams and change my mind at once!)

6 What 2018 release are you most anticipating?

Among 2018 debuts, I had the privilege of reading NOT THE GIRLS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR by Aminah Mae Safi and fell in love with this fantastic contemporary novel about growing up female in modern America. I am also looking forward to THE BELLES by Dhonielle Clayton which has a fascinating premise and a crush-worthy cover.

7 If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of A Girl Like That

 “The wails Masi let out were so heartwrenching, you’d think I was her only daughter lying dead before her instead of the parasite from her sister’s womb as she had once called me."

I picture Zarin having this thought as people judged her and her actions. It, sadly, happens all too often. People think they know someone because of their reputation and the truth is often much more complex than people want to admit.

A Girl Like That releases February 27, 2018 but you can pre-order it right now from any retailer.

You can also find out more about Tanaz on her website, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Do you love the cover of A Girl Like That as much as I do? Is it already on your radar for 2018? Let me know in the comments.

Be sure to stop by Monday to find out the next book on my 2018 Most Anticipated List!

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