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Publisher's Summary

In this young adult debut set in Saudi Arabia, where the law forbids romantic relationships outside of marriage, two teens fall in love, with tragic consequences. 

Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: an Indian girl, a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a troublemaker whose romantic entanglements are the subject of endless gossip among the girls in her school. "You don't want to get involved with a girl like that," they say. So how is it that Porus, a Parsi boy, 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 the highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is called into question.

©2018 Tanaz Bhathena (P)2018 Recorded Books

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  • K. J. Noyes
  • 03-18-18

Teenagers: the same all over

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favourite?

Zarin - I found the male narrator not as clear to listen to, not as well-articulated, and had to turn up the volume for the men.

Any additional comments?

Insightful look at teenage issues in Saudi Arabia - not so different to those anywhere else.

In setting this in a country we know mainly from news stories and other media, you have expectations of what you're going to get, who you're going to meet. But straightaway, we find ourselves in a Sunset Boulevard-esque opener, with two dead teenagers talking, after their car crash. The (religious) police believe they understand the 'type' of girl who would have been in a car with a boy, and what had happened. But Zarin and Porus don't fit their stereotype...

We are then taken back to Zarin's life leading up to the car crash. An orphan, she has spent her life quietly (or not so quietly) defying her uncle and aunt, dating boys, being her own person, despite the religious restrictions of her country. And Porus is the boy who's long been in love with her.

While this takes many directions that aren't much of a surprise, the fact that this is set in a country that restricts women makes what is a conventional enough story rather different. And it does give a new perspective to the treatment of women, making me consider other stories and situations in which females have had similar issues to contend with.

I enjoyed the multiple narrations, with both leads voicing, but also more minor characters bringing their own take on Zarin. The Audible narrators were well chosen for their age though I found the female reader much clearer than the male, who I had to keep turning the volume up to understand as well.

It felt universal in theme - the same issues crop up for adolescents wherever they live - but with a setting that I've not read about before, so I liked picturing this rather dangerous country and imagining what it must be like there.

The unfamiliar setting was what kept my attention, it will be a good choice to recommend to teenage readers who who be interested in other countries and moral systems.

With thanks to Nudge Book for providing a sample Audible copy for review purposes.