review: The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar


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 realises there might be more to her than she realised.



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This is one of my favourite 2020 reads so far. I couldn’t stop thinking about this book when I was in between reading it so I gobbled this up in about three days.

The romance was business rivals to lovers, which is my favourite romance trope. The yearning and the pining and the cute moments they had was great, and I love how it didn’t completely overtake Nishat’s story. The book didn’t revolve around the romance which was great to see as it discusses so many important things.

I also loved the sibling relationship between Nishat and Priti, they’re supportive and looking out for each other, had really cute moments. The amount of trust and love they had for each other was so lovely to see. I think this may be my favourite sibling relationship I’ve seen in a book. The fact that this was highlighted more in the book than any other theme and remained consistent throughout was also super refreshing to see.

While this book is described as soft and adorable a lot (it is literally this emoji 🥰 as a book) it does deal with homophobia, racism, and cultural appropriation. I love the way the cultural appropriation was handled; you could feel Nishat’s anger and heartbreak over people who were appropriating her culture and saying “Its just art” to make it seem okay. There were mentions of what it was like being a POC in a very white country (people not knowing how to pronounce Nishat’s name properly? I felt that.) And Nishat’s parents’ reaction. They reacted very negatively which did shatter my heart in every single way.

A drawback of this book that might bother some readers is the writing style. It can be bland at times, and while it didn’t really take away from my reading experience it might for others. I also felt like the discussions of these heavy themes could have been a bit more nuanced (especially the cultural appropriation) but again, didn’t really lower my rating or take away from my experience at all.

I really recommend this book. You should read it. And Adiba Jaigirdar has another book coming out, Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating which, yes, has a fake dating trope (and rumour has it, romantic rain scenes) I cannot wait!!

have you read The Henna Wars? are you interested in reading it if you haven’t yet? tell me your thoughts!

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5 thoughts on “review: The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

  1. I’ve been eyeing this book for some time, and I’m so glad that it’s been getting so many rave reviews so far. It’s just nice to see Asian books that are actually getting some hype, you know. I haven’t seen this book around in my country, which doesn’t really surprise me because bookstores here sell the popular books, so I have to get this from Amazon or Book Depository (if they ever resume their delivery to the Philippines). I can’t wait to finally get this book someday. 😊

    Also, welcome to WordPress!! I hope you’ll have a grand ole time, and also, I hope you won’t lose your mind over the WordPress block editor. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you can get it soon, you’d really enjoy it! And thanks, this block editor confused me so much at first, I didn’t know how to do anything (I was like where. are the bullet points. and can you believe I *just* found out that it has a block for star ratings already, I copied the ones in this post from somewhere else sdhsh but I think I’ll get the hang of it after a while haha)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooooh, I didn’t know about the star ratings, actually, but that’s probably because I don’t use star ratings in my reviews anymore.

        For me, I’m relatively neutral towards the editor because I don’t exactly have anything to compare it with. So let’s wait till we get the hang of it! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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