Title: The Henna Wars
Author: Adiba Jaigirdar
Release date: May 12th, 2020
Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it 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 decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back.
As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance.
“She’s inching forward.
Is there a heterosexual explanation for why she’s inching forward?”
I loved this book!! It was a wonderful combination of serious and sweet. This story follows Nishat, who comes out to her family at the beginning of the book and isn’t received well. On top of that, she’s dealing with drama and racism from peers at school on a regular basis. And then we get the rivalry, friendship, and relationship story!
This story hit at a lot of heartstrings. When Nishat came out, the silence from her parents was heartbreaking, and it was followed by unacceptance. This “silent” response to coming out is one I don’t see as often, but it’s so relatable and hits different. I really sympathized for Nishat and became invested in her story from the start with this.
The writing was fun and quick to follow. There were a few lines that made me laugh, while the book also brought to light issues of cultural appropriation, bullying, homophobia, and racism. Nishat is a lesbian Muslim Bangladeshi attending an all-girls Catholic school is Ireland and it’s A Time. This story, while being about a simple competition, hits on so many more points and makes for a powerful story.
The other relationships in this book were also amazing. Nishat and her sister, Priti, are the true stars of this book. It’s them against the world, and between the two of them, they navigate family and friend struggles.
Overall, this was such a great read. I highly recommend it for someone looking for a quick contemporary read that’s sweet but serious.