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Secrets of the Henna Girl

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  260 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Life as Zeba knows it could be over for good...
Zeba Khan is like any other sixteen-year-old girl: enjoying herself, waiting for exam results... and dreaming of the day she'll meet her one true love. Except her parents have other plans. In Pakistan for the summer, Zeba's world is shattered. Her future is threatened by an unthinkable - and forced - duty to protect her father
Paperback, 270 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Penguin UK
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(showing 1-30 of 529)
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Apr 07, 2012 Ikhlas rated it liked it
Sixteen-year-old Zeba Khan is waiting for her exam results to come, when her parents decide on a family vacation to their home country of Pakistan. Zeba considers herself British, and visiting her parents’ home country isn’t exactly on her top vacation picks.

But to Pakistan she goes, to the blistering heat, where she finds out that her parents have decided she is to marry her cousin Asif, her father’s older brother’s son, who is in the military. Zeba becomes a scapegoat in a battle of family pol
Sahina Bibi
Oct 05, 2015 Sahina Bibi rated it liked it
First off, thank you to Penguin Group for sending me this book for review. I was particularly interested in this novel based on the culture and mix of different ideas that Sufiya Ahmed promised to bring forth - a taste of something different.

Being a Muslim myself, throughout the book, I found myself nodding along with certain phrases and the ideas that were presented from the parents of the main character Zeba as well as the relatives she visits when she goes abroad. Though it's quite a step bac
Zunaira Sumbal
Dec 04, 2013 Zunaira Sumbal rated it really liked it
Secrets of the Henna Girls started as a typical tale by a foreign writer who has spiced up the novels by adding Patriarchal commands in the highest ratio... Zeba a British raised and British nationality holder went to Pakistan for summer vacations, but ends up knowing that she is to be married to her only male patriotic army officer cousin to save him from sudden death or to say death of martyr... she protested but for Honour she gave in and became ready to meet her fate written by her father an ...more
Michelle (Fluttering Butterflies)
Finished this with tears in my eyes. Loved Zeba's relationship with Nannyma!

Secrets of the Henna Girl by Sufiya Ahmed is a very different book to what I'd normally read. It is very much an 'issues book' as the main thrust of the story involves forced marriage. While I found some parts of the book felt like a learning exercise and therefore didn't feel like natural to the story, other parts were very emotional. This book tells the story of 16 year old Zeba and how her and family went on holiday
Ala Jadooa
Dec 26, 2014 Ala Jadooa rated it liked it
آلاف الزيجات القسرية للقاصرات تتم يوميا في أغلب مجتمعاتنا العربية ولا أحد يتحرك لمنعها لعدة أسباب أهمّها غياب النص القانوني الذي يجرّم مرتكبيها بالدرجة الأولى ومباركة بعض رجال الدين لهذا النوع من الزيجات بالدرجة الثانية.. زيبا هي واحدة من المحظوظات التي نجت من مصيرٍ مؤلمٍ وربما حتى الموت بفضل جنسيتها البريطانية التي ساعدتها للوقوف بوجه هذه الجريمة الانسانية بإسم القانون أولا وأخيرا ، فمن يقف بجانب سعاد العراقية أو ليلى السورية أو تهاني المصرية أو أو …. تمنيت وأنا أقرأ في سطور هذه الرواية أن ألمس ...more
Feb 09, 2013 pdbkwm rated it really liked it
It's late, so I'll write a better review for this another time.

I've never been outside of my country since I got here when I was a wee lil one. I haven't left the city for an overnight stay in years and I work in the summer. But if you have a life and go places in the summer, then imagine being sixteen and going to visit your home land. The beautiful landscapes, the relatives, and the food, all await your arrival. Your parents seem testy, but you're not too bothered. It's been awhile for them si
Leonie Byrne
Apr 28, 2013 Leonie Byrne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: real-life-issues
I read this book as part of the Rotherham's children's book awards as I work in a school. We basically have 4 books to read and then vote for the best in our opinion. This is the first one I've read but I've got to say I can't see any of the others topping it. What a fantastic story and what an eye opener it has been I suggest anybody who is prejudiced in any way against people of different race and religion reads this book. The story is about a young girl named Zeba a British Muslim with Pakist ...more
Jan 13, 2013 Beth rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book but I was so frustrated at the same time. At the fact that these girls who are forced into arranged marriages have no choice and are manipulated by men who are arrogant, unfeeling, cold and barbaric. Even the women who serve these men condone this and I felt myself really annoyed with Zeba's parents because they see their honour as being more important to them than their own daughter. They are also cowardly as they could not tell her the truth until she was stranded in ...more
Apr 13, 2014 Maysa rated it really liked it
I gave this book 4 stars rather than 5 because tbh I felt the writing was vague and shaky at times. The character developments were a bit abrupt, and some scenes carried no logic.
However, when it comes to the positives this book was definitely an eye opener to me. Being half Pakistani myself, the descriptions of Pakistan were A++.
yet I don't think this mentality still exists over there... or maybe it's because we come from the city area, Karachi. This book marvelled me with its morals presente
Jan 19, 2016 Kristina rated it liked it
This seemed like quite a self-righteous book to me. I think the issue of forced marriages is too complicated to be suitably addressed in such a teen-read book but this was a good way of introducing the issue to young people.
However the characters didn't seem to behave consistently. One chapter the maid risks injury when ordered, the next she disobeys an order to look in a mirror. The heroine was unreasonably surprised by the social situation in her parents' homeland. I couldn't quite reconcile t
May 26, 2013 Taybah rated it it was amazing
I love this book my mum brought it for me I just can't get enough of it!!!
Mar 05, 2012 Misty rated it liked it
Secrets of the Henna Girl was a really interesting, thought provoking and informative read, right from the first pages I started to learn about Indian culture and way of life, all of which I found really intriguing. There were really great descriptions when Zeba travels to Pakistan of the landscape and the clothes so I could visualise everything.

But, that being said, the storyline itself, whilst being different, was pretty straightforward and I didn't feel myself excited by it but I was enlight
Zeba has finished school for the year and is eagerly awaiting the results for her exams and is looking forward to school the following year. The annual trip home to Pakistan to visit her parents relatives isn’t something she’s been looking forward to, she’d rather spend the summer with her best friend.

Arriving in Pakistan, Zeba’s life is drastically changed. She finds out that her parents have promised her hand in marriage to her cousin and the wedding is happening in only a matter of weeks! She
Ok, contemporary is just not doing it for me. For some reason I just cannot fully connect with contemporary books, maybe because I'm not really used to reading them (more like horror, YA, fantasy, ect.) or maybe it's because contemporary is realistic, so things that can happen in real life; therefore, I find it quite bland and I get bored quickly. Like this one. Or it's just because I couldn't really connect it. I don't know.

It was a real shame because the author, Sufiya Ahmed, came to visit my
Aug 23, 2014 Fahima rated it really liked it
A story of a young girl who thinks she's visiting her hometown for a joyful vacation but soon finds out she is to be married to someone against her will. lots of anger, betrayal, emotional blackmail and senseless
the tales explores the contrast between traditions and religion and the manners in which the former succeeds the latter. Traditions are upheld even if the religion demeans and forbids it. The wise grandmother of the protagonist explains the caste system and the power play of the rich wh
Jun 04, 2013 Chandni rated it it was ok
From a professional book reviewer

The secrets of the henna girl by Sufiya Ahmed -
A story that can be highly captive for the west but no so much for us asians. It is a touche topic no doubt but I think the author chooses to gain sympathy for the protagonist by portraying what's worst of our tradition and society. Remember there are good things and there are bad things in every culture and every deed cannot be called following culture. it varies from person to person too. lets us not be biased abou
May 27, 2014 Hina rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
An extra .5 stars for the cover (and the fact that it has my name ;-)

For some reason this book reminded me of The Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I slightly prefer this one over that. The story was slightly Bollywood-ish but not in a bad way. Sometimes, I wanted to slap Zeba for being so naive but then she was just a 16 year old girl.

Nannyma and Nusrat Khala were my favorite characters. Followed by Farhat. Some emotional scenes were so well written I cried buckets. I felt bad for Seh
Jul 05, 2012 Sonia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: random
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 02, 2012 Akhila rated it really liked it
Secrets of the Henna Girl.
I wonder what the author thought the title could reflect because I see no meaning behind it.
It's a wonderfully unique book. Zeba goes through hardships that are so heart-wrenching and the author is a good writer but I don't think this is her best book. The writing was shaky and showed holes in some areas but the plot and characters are so strong. It's complex, it has moral lines that are blurred by giving justification for the forced marriage. I appreciate this, it woul
Jul 20, 2012 Maria rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: eveyone
Recommended to Maria by: no-one
I read this book in one day, I picked the book up as an Asian I found the book interesting and the book had henna on it so I was told by my heart to borrow it at the library.

When I started the book I thought it was about sunshine and rainbows and happy endings, will I was mistaken. The book had sadness, and pain. The book was very good and I am not afraid to admit it that I cried couple of times in the book, I am not going to say when in the book I cried but lets say you may cry at the same piea
Apr 12, 2012 Juwi rated it really liked it
i really enjoyed this book
it made me think a lot about forced marriages and how boys can also be ostracized from society and their families for refusing to marry someone
in addition, i think it's incredibly informative for those who are unaware of the boundaries between culture and religion and how there's a BIG difference between an arranged marriage which is quite common compared to a forced marriage which is just plain wrong but an old cultural practice

i think this is a book everyone should r
Sep 28, 2014 Anna001 rated it liked it
Too many unlikely occurrences/character shifts but still okay.
Apr 09, 2016 Maddi rated it it was amazing
Best book I've read in a while. Finished it within a week which is an all-time record for me
Jul 05, 2012 May rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book is totally awesome and I very much enjoyed reading it.
It made me smile, laugh and cry. I felt so bad for Zeba, but luckily she had the support she needed and got the happy ending she deserves. I literally cried when Sehar died, no one deserves what she and Zeba went, but atleast Zeba was one of the lucky ones.

I loved Nannyama with her wisdom, Nusrat, Farhat and Husna. I was so happy when I finally read that Husna remarried.

I didn't know this happened to boys too. I wasn't familiar with
Nov 29, 2012 Esra rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 23, 2015 Sadia rated it it was amazing
i think that this is a really good book, it was quite adventurous. I will recommend this book to my friends.
Jan 03, 2016 Humaira rated it it was amazing
Really good
Independent Katniss
Sep 22, 2014 Independent Katniss rated it really liked it
really inspiring
Mar 02, 2014 Saytun rated it it was amazing
loved it so much
Oct 26, 2012 Wendy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
Although this book is listed as fiction (young adult to be precise), I found this book could easily be classified as biographical. It gave an amazing insight into forced marriages. This particular story covered a 16 year old Pakistani's girls' journey of family tradition, family honour and arranged marriages. It was an easy read, an educational read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Sufiya Ahmed was born in India and arrived in the UK as a baby. She lived in Bolton, Lancashire, before moving to London where she still lives. Sufiya has worked in advertising and in the House of Commons, but is now a full-time author. In 2010 Sufiya set up the BIBI Foundation, a non-profit organisation, to arrange visits to the Houses of Parliament for diverse and underprivileged school children ...more
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