Published by Page Street Kids on May 12, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Blog Tour, The Publisher
Cover Artist: Nabigal-Nayagam Haider Ali
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing; Some bullying and a character being outed)
When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.
Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.
A portrait of coming out in a Muslim family, The Henna Wars explores the ways that our culture defines who we are—and the ways it can’t define us. Nishat knows that her family isn’t going to be happy when she comes out to them—after all, in her home country of Bangladesh, being a lesbian is punishable by death. But since her parents broke all the rules and married for love and then moved to Ireland for a better life, Nishat has hope that they’ll accept her. Unfortunately, acceptance doesn’t come easily—she’s basically told that she can’t be gay because she’s Muslim and that she’ll bring shame to the family. Meanwhile, Nishat is nursing a crush on Flávia, while also competing against her in a business competition where they both decide to apply henna as their business. Of course, Nishat is more than a little upset that she has to compete against someone who is appropriating her culture (and it makes it all the more hurtful that she’s crushing on Flávia and that it seems like Flávia should have respect for others’ cultures since she herself is black and Brazilian and has known what it’s like to have her culture stereotyped). This book is pretty light on plot (it gets better once the competition truly gets going) and I wasn’t always a fan of anyone’s choices (even Nishat’s), but it highlights how sexual orientation can be complicated by cultural and religious values. And the book also has important messages about cultural appropriation that I thought were handled really well. Nishat’s story is compelling, so you’ll want to keep turning the pages!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via FFBC blog tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Adiba Jaigirdar is a Bangladeshi/Irish writer and teacher. She lives in Dublin, Ireland. She has an MA in Postcolonial Studies from the University of Kent, England and a BA in English and History from UCD, Ireland.
She is a contributor for Bookriot. Previously, she has published short fiction and poetry in various journals and anthologies.
All her work is aided by copious amounts of (kettle-made) tea and a whole lot of Hayley Kiyoko and Janelle Monáe.
She is represented by Uwe Stender at TriadaUS.
(Also check out the second giveaway on Instagram.)
Win a copy of THE HENNA WARS by Adiba Jairgirdar (US/CAN Only)
sounds interesting. thanks for sharing
Thanks for stopping by!
I have seen this book all over book twitter and I really want to give it a go! I don’t see nearly as many f/f books highlighted in the mainstream as there are m/m, so it’s good that this author is getting recognition.
I definitely agree with that!
I was really intrigued to hear what people would think of this book! It stood out to me in when I was reading the premise because it’s attempt to deliver something different and thought-provoking to the table but I was really hesitant in wanting to read it mainly due to execution. Thank you for your review!
Glad my review could help!
I hadn’t heard of this one (and would have thought it MG by the – gorgeous – cover) but it sounds wonderful.
Karen @ For What It’s Worth
Illustrated covers are becoming more and more popular for YA and Adult, but I agree that I always think of MG first when I see a lot of them.
I don’t need much plot to keep me happy as long as the pacing is decent. I am excited to see what Jaigirdar did here, and I think it’s wonderful that she shared this story with us.
The plot does pick up as the book moves on, but the beginning is definitely more of a character study. I really enjoyed it, though!
This book sounds so cute!!!
Hope you get a chance to read it!
Thanks for sharing. I’m a big character person, so books with not a lot of plot aren’t always a bad thing if I really like the characters, etc.
The plot does pick up later in the book, but it takes a bit to get there. Still really enjoyed it though!
Thanks for the giveaway chance! I’m not usually into YA romance but the premise of The Henna Wars is too cute to not try it. I just finished reading another book about a Bangladeshi-American lesbian who is outed to her parents (The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali). That book was super intense though. The Henna Wars sounds like a more fun read. I’m curious how the cultural appropriation discussion is handled, what with the ‘appropriator’ being the love interest.
I haven’t read Love & Lies yet, but I definitely want to. I wouldn’t say that this book is super intense—it’s nice to have a broad range of books on this topic!
Love the idea of this book! I recently read A Woman is No Man and I now feel the need to discover more about other cultures’ ideas and concept of freedom. Added this one to my TBR pile 🙂
I’ll have to check out A Woman Is No Man.
I love the comparison with ‘When Dimples met Rishi’ adored that book. And Love that there’s more representation from muslim authors.
It’s definitely great to see more of this representation—I agree!
I can’t wait to read it!! And get it for my classroom library.
Hope you love it!
I was waiting for this book to come out all week, it sounds so exciting 🙂 The cover and title are beautiful too. Thanks for the giveaway! I entered.
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I love stories about different cultures! I’m glad this one captured you, and cultural appropriation is something important for everyone to be aware of. Great Review 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
I agree. Cultural appropriation is an important topic that’s often misunderstood.
I have been hearing such good things about The Henna Wars and I honestly cannot wait to read it! It sounds cute and sweet but also like it does a deep dive into culture as well. I watched an interview with the author and it only made me all the more excited. I’m glad you enjoyed it a lot ^.^
Yes, it really does dig deep into culture—that was my favorite aspect of the book.
Ahh I’m glad to hear the book was compelling despite the lack of plot! I’m so, so curious about this one, can’t wait to read it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! 🙂
Hope you love it! I would say the plot picks up, but it starts out as more of a character study.
I’m super excited to read this book!! I’ve been seeing it around, and I’m in love with the cover. I also adore plotlines that involve a rivals to lover type thing. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it!
This one definitely fits the rivals to lovers bill!