Susan is the new girl—she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy—he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.
Susan’s parents are on the verge of divorce. Malcolm’s dad is a known adulterer.
Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants—until he meets her.
Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.
Bhathena (A Girl like That) weaves forbidden love and love gone awry into her story of a high school senior adjusting to Western culture. Raised in Saudi Arabia, Susan now lives in Canada with her mother while her father continues to practice medicine overseas. Attending a coed school is a novelty for sheltered Susan, and she soon finds herself drawn to rebellious Malcolm a friendship she hides from her strict parents, who are getting a divorce. Also a secret are her dreams for the future: instead of fulfilling her parents' wishes by becoming a doctor or engineer, she wants to attend art school. Malcolm is holding on to secrets of his own about his charged relationship with his father and stepmother. The characters can feel clich d, but this dramatic romance, told from Susan and Malcolm's alternating viewpoints, authentically traces the teens' gradual changes as they come to terms with mistakes they've made and who they want to be. Ages 12 up.