Book Review: The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

Genre: Teen/YA

Rating: 5/5


Nishat and Flávia are rivals at school, but Nishat can’t help the secret crush burning in her heart – even though her parents disapprove of the fact she likes girls. Can she possibly find her happy ever after? A gorgeous, heart-warming, queer YA love story for fans of Becky Albertalli.

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 lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, which only gets harder once Flávia walks into her life.

Beautiful and charismatic, Flávia takes Nishat’s breath away. But as their lives become tangled, they’re caught up in a rivalry that gets in the way of any feelings they might have for each other.

Can Nishat find a way to be true to herself… and find love too?

Adiba Jaigirdar is a stunning new voice in young adult fiction, writing uplifting, authentic stories from a Bengali-Irish perspective.

My verdict: Finally an LGBTQ book surrounding Bengali and a Spanish woman! This beautiful book discusses cultural appropriation, balancing the traditions of your heritage as well as the modern world and in all that remaining true to yourself. This book is a rollercoaster of emotions, trying to please your parents, hate crimes, somebody being outed, cultural expectations and prejudice all wrapped up in this epic will/ they won’t they love story amid a school business competitions. This book is unique because this is the first book to my knowledge that deals with LGBTQ young adults who happen to Bengali as the major issues in this book aren’t talked about in their communities and thus begins to remove the scandal and stigma, giving LGBTQ individuals hope that attitudes are slowly changing offering a glimmer of hope.

Aside from the LGBTQ issues it also deals with people’s attitudes towards others who are from a different country and that their culture is indeed not a trend and raises awareness of having a different culture and acknowledging, in this case, Irish attitudes and ideals especially when the majority of the community is catholic. This book teaches us that none of us should hide who we are and celebrate whilst remaining respectful and not pushing our ideals and morals on others and yet still consider other points of view.

I laughed, I cried, I raged but most importantly I resonated with the overall narrative and am glad that positive changes in regards to our attitudes are ongoing. I wish I had books like these growing up! Gen Z, you are incredibly lucky. Thank you for Netgalley for letting me read and open my eyes to the issues raised where it made me realised how lucky I am to not have to deal with the cultural prejudices. However, it did raise the issue that British teenagers can be narrow minded and prejudiced showing that prejudice is everywhere no matter race or religion.

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