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The Henna Wars Review

Title: The Henna Wars

Author: Adiba Jaigirdar

Published: 2020

Publisher: Hachette Children's Group

Rating: ****

Genre: Romance, YA, Fiction

Setting: Ireland

Difficulty: Easy Pages: 400

Always spoiler free. Includes incidences of homophobia (including outing of a character) and racism.

I chose this book as part of an Instagram readathon (#ReadingAsiaPacific) created @candid_copywriter & @theurban_reader for April. I had seen this beautiful book cover on Instagram, so it wasn’t much of a challenge to persuade me to buy it for the readathon!

Nishat likes girls. She just wants to like girls, but throw in disapproving parents, a Catholic school and judgemental classmates, a business competition, cultural appropriation, and a new crush and her life has suddenly got a little bit more complicated.

I really liked this book. I found it both very emotional and cute. It is at times a tough read, but also hopeful. There aren’t many big, flashy moments in the novel, but mostly a series of understated happenings which makes it a very realistic and gut-wrenching novel.

It was at times a little too simplistic for me: the plotline obvious in parts, a bit straight forward and the end wrapped up a little too neatly, without fully exploring everything (and Jaigirdar introduces some big topics). I would have loved some of the smaller details fleshed out to really bring the story to life, but I have to keep reminding myself this is not an adult or fantasy novel!

Jaigirdar gives Nishat so much emotion. Normal, teenage emotions. Stronger, painful emotions due to experiences with racism and homophobia. She puts our heroine through the ringer (so to speak) and while it would be nice to think that this piece of fiction isn’t an accurate portrayal, I can only imagine that it’s actually worse in reality, which is a sobering thought.

You’re really routing for Nishat through the novel and hoping for her happy ending. I really just wanted to give her a hug throughout the whole! And what an amazing sister! Jaigirdar is really great at characterisation.

I would definitely recommend this book.

Well Red Reviews

Would I recommend this book? Yes!

Favourite quote(s):

“She’s inching forward.

Is there a heterosexual explanation for why she’s inching forward?”

“What I want more than anything else in the world is to feel like being myself isn’t something that should be hidden and a secret.”

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