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The Henna Wars

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  3,656 ratings  ·  1,004 reviews
When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.

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 famil
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 12th 2020 by Page Street Kids
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Misha Husnain Ali Not much. It's a book about the very early stages of a romance between two 16 year olds so there's nothing sexual happening.

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 ·  3,656 ratings  ·  1,004 reviews

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Emily May
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When matters of the heart are involved, it's difficult to be careful.

This was such a perfect blend of serious and sweet. I requested an arc of The Henna Wars on a whim, but soon found myself completely engrossed in this story about prejudice, culture, appropriation and romance.

Jaigirdar sets her story in a Catholic Girls' High School in Dublin. Nishat is Bangladeshi, Muslim and gay; she just came out to her parents and was met with an uncomfortable silence, so she is understandably heartbrok
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Of course Muslims can be gay. How can anyone think otherwise? The two aren't mutually exclusive. I am the living, breathing proof."

What a stunning debut. I hoped this book would be good but I didn't expect it to be extraordinary. I read this book in one sitting and stayed up until 2am to finish it.

This is not going to be a coherent review, be warned. The book touches so many different themes, from sisterhood to bullying, homophobia, family and racism and it's all done so well. One of my favour
may ➹
read this review and others on my blog

It’d be a lie to say that I didn’t have high expectations for this book. (I mean, the premise is essentially “what if we were business rivals who may or may not have feelings for each other? and we were both girls?” so how could I not.) And I’m very happy to say that I was not disappointed in the least!

The Henna Wars follows a Bengali girl named Nishat, who just came out to her parents and has to figure out how to not crumble under the despairing weight of
i loved this /so/ much. rtc! <3

Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch

This was our August 2020 pick for the Dragons and Tea Book Club! 🐉☕ (Also, we are so close to 5k members and it would mean the world to me if you joined us!)

💖 Content and trigger warnings: racism, homophobia, bullying, character being outed (thank you so much, May!)
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer, 2020-releases
Hello this was v v cute and I REALLY enjoyed it. I especially appreciated that none of the characters were all good or all bad. They were all super complex and REALISTIC teenage characters and honestly this was just great.
Avert your eyes from this review.

It’s for your own safety. And protection. And well-being.

I am about to say something so heinous, so deeply upsetting, so profoundly unforgivable, that it may change the course of your life forever.

Here we go.

There’s still time to stop reading.

Here it is:

The cutest part of this book…

Is the cover.

I know. I’m sorry. If you want to send the Bookworm Police to revoke my membership card, I will understand.

But I’m speaking my truth on this one.

Good things about this:
Adiba Jaigirdar
Mar 06, 2019 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
The content warnings for this book is printed in the ARC, and will also be printed in the final copy. But for anyone wondering whether you are in the right headspace to pick it up, the content warnings can be found here.

You can also find links to the first chapter excerpt and the Spotify Playlist on my website!

Happy reading everyone!
C.G. Drews
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sometimes you read books that are just cute and warm and heartbreaking. And your soul just THRIVES. 😍(Look, what is a little reading without pain.) I really fell in love with this, from the sapphic representation to the addictive and wonderful writing to the absolutely amazing sisterly bonds. And can we please admire this cover for ever it is so ridiculous CUTE I JUST !!!

[let's talk about family]
Family is a really powerful theme in this book, because Nishat is lesbian and is coming out to her co
Jananie (thisstoryaintover)
this was SO cute. loved seeing the qpoc rep and the Bengali culture shine through in this book.
Unknown Reviews

I can’t deny my expectations for this book were high and it just about delivered. I enjoyed the story a lot, but the finished product didn’t exactly give me what I thought it would. I was looking forward to in-depth dives into cultural appropriation, a Sapphic enemies to lovers romance, and just a story generally dealing with the aftermath of coming out. I still got one of those things, so that’s still decent but this book felt like it could've been so much more.

The Henna Wars centres on a
☆ 5 / 5 ☆

August pick for the Dragons & Tea Bookclub

The instant I finished the audiobook I felt tears pricking my eyes and just this huge sense of happiness that almost felt overbearing. This made my heart feel so full and whole, and in that moment I felt truly known.

I loved this book from the very beginning; I loved Nishat, I loved Priti, I loved their sisterly bond, I loved that this book started off with a wedding, I loved that Nishat knew Flávia from before and that she was maybe her first c
June 08, 2020: So glad to be featuring the author on my blog as she writes a guest post about the importance of conversations around sexual orientation in stories with South Asian culture while she also divulges a little about the history of sexuality and gender spectrum in pre-colonial South Asia.

May 12, 2020:

Allow me to recount my first ever job: I was good at henna designing and when—in eight grade—the beauty parlours around my house were in search of more staff during the busy days before Ei
this was...terrible.

i was genuinely so excited to read this. the premise sounded so beautiful - a hate-to-love romance between two girls of colour who have a competing henna business...

well, the execution was not there, to say the least.

-the writing was felt so childish at points and remained consistently bland. there was something so weird about it that made it difficult for me to feel connected to the story and characters. nishat's narrative voice just felt very juvenile at points. there's j
Jul 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt-read, 3-star
But I’m tired of being ashamed. My choice is clearly laid out in front of me. I’m going to choose me.

I really loved the main character's journey as an individual, but sadly I couldn't support the romance. It's not that Flávia did something irreversible, but Nishat's emotions were so well written, that when Flávia made her upset I don't know how many times in a row, I was so disappointed and hurt in Nishat's bahalf, I just couldn't see how we (Nishat and me) could ever forgive her. Ev
Mar 14, 2019 marked it as to-read a story featuring two brown girls falling in love? not to be dramatic, but this is everything i've ever wanted.
Lauren Lanz
3.5 stars! ⭐️

The Henna Wars was a wonderful contemporary novel! Adiba Jaigairdar puts Bengali culture on full display while also tackling topics such as sexuality and cultural appropriation.

"Of course Muslims can be gay. How can anyone think otherwise? The two aren't mutually exclusive. I am the living, breathing proof."

~★~ What is this book about? ~★~

When Nishat comes out as lesbian to her parents, they’re hesitant to adapt their cultural and religious views for her.
At school, students are give
Sprinkled Pages
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
this was such a cute read omg!!! this touched on important topics, but also remained a light hearted and sweet read
April (Aprilius Maximus)
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
“This is one of those moments that I want to bottle up and keep with me forever. Not because it's extraordinary, or because it's the kind of thing you would find in a Bollywood movie.
But because it's the kind of moment I could never have dreamed of having in a million years.”

representation: characters of colour (Bengali MC (own voices), Brazilian-Irish love interest, Korean side character), own voices queer characters (lesbian MC, bisexual love interest), Muslim MC (own voices).

[trigger war
2020 Ripped Bodice Summer Bingo: ‪Debut Novel

I wouldn’t call this book particularly fluffy/romantic as most of the content is heart-wrenching, but it did end happily and I cried my eyes out.

Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Sahil Javed
Nov 13, 2019 marked it as to-read
give me brown girls and boys falling in love with the same sex. give me all of that gay stuff.
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
Trigger Warning: Racism, Homophobia, Forced Outing, Bullying

Nishat has a problem. Well, she doesn't have a problem—her parents, friends and rivals do. Her parents won't accept that she is a lesbian. Her friends won't accept her desire to operate a henna shop as part of their school project. And her rivals are—well. One is a girl she is instantly attracted to, and the other is the Worst Human Being On Earth.

Why do they get to take away my right to come out, and win a competition with my culture o
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
The ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Full review HERE

Trigger warnings for racism, homophobia, bullying and a character being outed.

The Henna Wars totally surprised me! It deals with quite a lot of important themes, but it does so in an efficient and caring way. This young adult book is about Nishat, a Bengali girl who lives in Ireland and who enjoys creating henna designs. She has an insta-crush on Flávia, a Brazilian girl who us
Lea (drumsofautumn)
This was such an amazing book with so many important topics, all handled incredibly well! So much discussion on racism and cultural appropriation, the queer representation and different coming-out stories were wonderful, the relationship between the main character and her sister was absolutely beautiful and all the character were so flawed and realistic. Plus I had an especially soft spot for how unapologetically the word "lesbian" was used within this book, even if it was something that the mai ...more
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

CWs: Incurred racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, bullying, and forced public outing of a queer character

This book is AMAZING. At its heart, I think this story is really about Nishat confronting ignorance and pain from people and places she once deemed to be safe. I think it's about how the people who love us can still very much hurt us, perhaps more than anyone else, and it's about the complicated roads we take to bring ourselves and our relationships out of that.

˗ˏˋ aphrodite ˊˎ˗
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
it’s stories like these that remind me I have am capable of emotional vulnerability....... deep deep down lol

but seriously this book is rich in bengali culture as nishat navigates how her own identity fits into her world, both at home and in her irish catholic school. I was on the edge of my seat as I listened to her journey with her sexuality and gaining agency with her culture in the wake of cultural appropriation and racism. I also loved the sister dynamics in this story so so much.

anna (½ of readsrainbow)
rep: Bengali Muslim lesbian mc, Afro-Brazilian Irish bi li, Bengali side characters, Korean side character
tw: homophobia, racism, outing, bullying

ARC provided by the publisher. Review also on my blog.

If I was to describe The Henna Wars in one word, I would say “comforting”. It’s comforting in a way that it’s a story about a Bengali Muslim lesbian, very clearly not catered towards white audience. The mc’s culture is a central point of the book, it plays a major role and not once is the girl made
anna grace
i’m.. honestly not sure about this rating? hm.

i definitely expected this book to be cuter and less angsty, so when a ton of bad things just kept happening to the main character, it wasn’t great. but i think that’s generally just the way contemporaries go, and it works for some of them, but in this book it felt sort of manufactured? like, especially when priti lashed out, that was really surprising and it didn’t seem to me like she had a great reason to do that.

the book definitely brought up a lo
Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
I had the privilege of reading this book a few months ago and it's honestly one of those stories that is life changing and healing. The story is about Nishat, a gay bengali student who enters a business competition at school, selling henna designs. The story is filled with so much unapologetic bengali pride, a beautiful (and hilarious) sibling relationship reminicent of kitty and lj from TATBILB and an amazing romance starring probably what I'd call my OTP. If it wasn't obvious... You NEED this ...more
Nishat becomes obsessed with winning her school’s business competition, but everything isn’t as smooth sailing as she thought it would be when her old school friend Flávia walks back into her life. Nishat is crushing hard but can’t get distracted. That is until Flávia also decides to do a henna business, and it comes to a heated discussion of cultural appropriation. After her parents disregard her coming out, this competition is everything to Nishat, and she can’t stand to lost anything now.

Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
i am a mess of emotions.
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Adiba Jaigirdar was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and has been living in Dublin, Ireland from the age of ten. She has a BA in English and History, and an MA in Postcolonial Studies. She is a contributor for Bookriot. All of her writing is aided by tea, and a healthy dose of Janelle Monáe and Hayley Kiyoko. When not writing, she can be found ranting about the ills of colonialism, playing video games, ...more

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“I've never really thought about having a type. I guess my type is....beautiful girl. Which is a lot of them. Most of them? Pretty much all girls.” 13 likes
“She’s inching forward.
Is there a heterosexual explanation for why she’s inching forward?”
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