My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Contemporary LGBTQ Romance
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Published: May 12th, 2020
CW: racism, homophobia, bullying, and a character being outed
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. – synopsis from Goodreads
2020 is turning out to be the year of sapphic books and I am living for it. When The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar starting popping up on my feed I was really excited that there was this #ownvoice diverse sapphic story that I could get a chance to read. And I was not disappointed.
I can’t stop gushing over how pretty this cover is. I absolutely love it. The colours, the artwork everything speaks to me in it. I also think it goes really well with the story. I want to say also that I cannot speak for the representation of Bengali culture or Islam that are in The Henna Wars as I am not an #ownvoice reviewer. But I personally loved learning more about this culture. I definitely googled a lot of the dishes that were mentioned and bookmarked a couple recipes to try out later. I wished there was a restaurant closer to me that I could go grab a couple of take outs too.
When I started The Henna Wars I was on the hunt for a cute swoony f/f story but I got so much more. Don’t get me wrong there is a love story there but I wasn’t expecting the story of Nishat to hit me as hard as it did. Nishat is the kind of character that doesn’t see how strong she is. Through all the adversity she encounters in life because of her sexuality and her culture, she faces it all head on and always stays true to her self. She could’ve decided to repress a lot of her feelings and who she is but she didn’t. Instead she met every challenge that was thrown at her head on and I love her for it. Being different when you are a teen is so hard. Kids are cruel and any reasons seems good to bully and ostricize people. The Henna Wars was much more about Nishat looking to find where she belongs in her country, her culture and her family.
One of the most important person in Nishat life is her sister Priti. The bond between them is absolutely wonderful. The love and support they bring to each other is heartwarming. Even in their disagreements and fights, they have each other’s backs. I think it’s one of my favourite sibling relationships in YA this year.
This story gave me such a rollercoaster ride when it came to emotions. I enjoyed it so much and can’t wait to see what Adiba Jaigirdar does next. If you liked books like from authors like S.K. Ali or Sabina Khan, this one could be for you.
Thank you to Page Street Kids, Netgalley and Fantastic Flying Book Club for providing an eArc in exchange for an honest review.
You can listen to the playlist HERE
She Keeps Me Warm by Mary Lambert
Issues by Julia Michaels
I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend by Girl in Red
Born This Way by Lady Gaga
Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
Make Me Feel by Janelle Monáe
I Want to Hold Your Hand by T.V. Carpio
Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish
“It’s internet stalking, it doesn’t count!”
“I still have a thing for Taylor Swift, after all – even though I hate all of her white feminism nonsense.”
“Who, in the history of the world, has achieved greatness by saying that we need to think smaller?”
“You’ll get caught. You’re not exactly James Bond.”
“White people like to pretend that race is only as deep as the color of our skin – maybe because the color their skin gets them so many benefits.”
“What I want more than anything else in the world is to feel like being myself isn’t something that I should be hidden and secret.”
About the author
You can follow Adiba through the links below:
Prize: Win a copy of THE HENNA WARS by Adiba Jairgirdar (US/CAN Only)
Starts: May 12th2020
Ends: May 26th2020