The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
Publication Date: May 1, 2020
TW: homophobia, racism, forced outing
CW: religion, cultural appropriation, Harry Potter mentions
Plot: Nishat just came out as a lesbian to her Bengali family and it did not go great. It does not help that a girl from her childhood moved back to town and now Nishat has a crush. To complicate things, they both start rival henna businesses for a business class.
I have not been feeling the YA recently so when my library hold for this one came in I was a bit apprehensive. I planned on reading a few chapters to see if I was ~feeling it~ but did not put any pressure on myself to officially start it. Well, the writing was fabulous and I got sucked into the story instantly.
Also, I am not Bengali, Black, Brazilian, Irish, or a lesbian and thus cannot comment on the representation and if I inaccurately portray something related to any of these I apologize and it was inadvertently done!
WHAT I LIKED
- I adored Nishat’s relationship with her sister and how supportive Priti was of her sister.
- This novel is quite diverse and I loved seeing girls of different cultures interact and have conversations about culture. The conversations are messy at times, but that made them feel realistic!
- It also takes place in Ireland which is not a common setting in books, especially YA
- The writing is so good!
- I love when contemporaries have writing that you just sink into.
- It’s also quite funny at times, even though the novel is mostly serious. But the moments of humor were interwoven so well.
- The author posted how much she was paid for this novel with the #PublishingPaidMe hashtag and it was pretty low which is A CRIME because this was amazing. See her tweet here.
- Cannot wait to read more from her.
- Nishat is a great narrator
- I mean this quote alone: “She’s inching forward. Is there a heterosexual explanation for why she’s inching forward?”
- She has such a big crush on Flávia and it’s adorable.
- Just full on HEART EYES!!
- This novel has important conversations on cultural appropriation, homophobia, and religion which were all interesting and important.
- I loved her conversations with her friends about this too
- The ending was perfect! I don’t want to spoil anything, but there was a conversation with her parents that was just so lovely and made me almost tear up.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE
- Look I’ve stopped reading YA because some plot points annoy me and this one had some friend drama that was predictable and a little annoying to read about. It makes sense in this story, but that does not mean I wanted to read about it.
Overall, this was a heartwarming YA contemporary with an adorable f/f romance with a great group of side characters. If this one isn’t on your TBR and you like diverse contemporary YA, you definitely need to add it!
Thanks for reading!