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Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating

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Everyone likes Humaira "Hani" Khan—she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship…with a girl her friends absolutely hate—Ishita "Ishu" Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.

Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published May 25, 2021

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About the author

Adiba Jaigirdar

10 books2,510 followers
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, and expanding her overflowing lipstick collection.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,390 reviews
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
880 reviews3,016 followers
April 26, 2022
Me: When it comes to novels, I have high expectations.

Book: so lesbians/bi girls ~🦋💜

Me: Okay, it meets all of my requirements. Please hand it on to me
Profile Image for may ➹.
463 reviews1,849 followers
August 11, 2021
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating is the perfect book to pick up if you’re looking for an enjoyable read that you can fly through. It is a contemporary with the best of both worlds, with a romance that is fun and tropey as well as an exploration of familial relationships, racism, and biphobia. At the heart are Hani and Ishu, who you can’t help but root for as they figure out their places in the world, and with each other.

“We all need to fit in, or need to be loved, or need approval.”

Hani and Ishu have opposite personalities—Hani is warm, friendly, and a little too willing to mold herself to fit what others want from her, while Ishu is a bit sharper, driven, and sometimes too harsh on herself and others. They both have strong individual arcs; I enjoyed watching Ishu learn how to weigh her parents’ expectations against her own desires and especially loved how Hani learned not to please others at the expense of herself. I also liked the portrayal of how, despite them being complete opposites, they were lumped together just for being the only brown girls at school.

Of course, their romance was sweet and entertaining to read, like fake dating stories always are. I would recommend this less for its fake dating trope and more for its sunshine x grump trope, though, because I think the latter delivered slightly more for me. But even though romance is a very large part of the story, the familial relationships were what shined the most for me. Hani’s loving parents were heartwarming to read, especially in how supportive they were of her bisexuality. And though rocky at times, Ishu’s relationship with her sister was equally sweet, their reconciliation a reinforcement of the love that binds sisters together.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating does an excellent job of balancing lighter, fluffier moments with heavier content, such as cultural assimilation/rejection and toxic friendship. Seeing the way Hani’s toxic friends treated Hani honestly made me a bit sick to my stomach to read at times, but Jaigirdar handled it with the utmost care and it was resolved satisfyingly by the end. And I appreciated how even though throughout the book Hani rejects her culture for the sake of others, she embraces and celebrates it by the end.

“You made a mistake, and your Abba made a mistake too,” she murmurs. “It doesn’t make anybody the worst anything in the world. It just makes us human.”

Jaigirdar’s writing style is so very engaging, enough that I could read most of the book in a single day. While I found it to be a bit bland and juvenile at times in The Henna Wars and it was still similar in this book (aimed towards the younger end of the YA audience), I liked it more in Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating—something about it felt slightly more mature to me. The humor was also more appealing to me personally!

My main issue with the book was its pacing, particularly with its romance. There wasn’t as much development as I wanted because it went a little quickly from the beginning of fake dating to the mutual pining, which meant less buildup scenes to make me really feel the depth of the angst. (And, if I’m being nitpicky, the whole premise of Ishu fake dating Hani to somehow gain popularity was a bit unbelievable to me.) The ending also had a very abrupt time-skip after the climax, which left me feeling like something was missing when I finished—not a satisfying way to end the book.

If you love YA contemporaries, I think you will definitely enjoy what Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating has to offer! Jaigirdar really knows how to write a delightful combination of both serious issues and lighter content, and her books are simply so much fun to binge read. Pick this one up for the cute romance, stay for the sweet familial relationships and compelling character growth.


:: representation :: Bangladeshi Bengali-Irish Muslim bisexual MC, Indian Bengali-Irish wlw MC, Bangladeshi and Indian Bengali side characters

:: content warnings :: racism, biphobia, lesbophobia, Islamophobia, toxic friendship, gaslighting, parental abandonment

Thank you to Page Street for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinion in any way.

All quotes are from an advance copy and may differ in final publication.
Profile Image for Jananie (thisstoryaintover).
290 reviews12.8k followers
June 9, 2021
ONE OF MY NEW ALL TIME FAVES 😭💗 Not only was this the cutest thing on the planet but it was so validating to see queer south asian in love and also seeing the very varied experiences they had despite having similar backgrounds 💗 this book had some of the most frustratingly real antagonists and I really appreciated seeing Hani's struggle with her friends, and also Ishu's struggle with her parents' expectations. Also can I just say that Ishu & Nik's sibling relationship was one of the most relatable ones I've read. If you haven't already, GO PICK UP THIS BOOK!!
Profile Image for emma.
1,783 reviews42.8k followers
December 31, 2021
In recent times, there has been a trend involving calling people the "main character."

Usually, this has something to do with people having a lot of money, or living in a place like New York City while having a lot of money, or being very beautiful while having a lot of money, or having more than one boyfriend, and also a lot of money.

But in truth, we are all the main characters of our own lives.

And I choose to believe it's for that reason that I believe I am always right and that everyone always agrees with me.

It's through that means that I have achieved the most meaningless success imaginable - success on this hellsite.

It's all about confidence.

Anyway, it's for that same reason that I have the only complaint about this book that I do: I just don't believe how much so many people in this book hate the cute-ass couple at its center.

This is an extremely adorable book that is a perfect YA encapsulation of the fake-dating trope. While I can't say whether the representation is well-done, because it doesn't represent me, I can say it was a real joy to read. The book is cute and funny.

And literally every single supporting character has no motivations, interests, feelings, or backstory beyond wanting to screw these cuties over.

It's not very believable and it's kind of annoying.

But the good news is the rest of the book is adorable city. And if that's not enough to distract you, your standards are too high.

And that's me talking.

Bottom line: Finally a YA contemporary I actually like! It's a generic nondenominational winter holiday miracle!


jiminy christmas that was cute.

review to come / 3.5 stars

tbr review

fake dating will forever hit different

clear ur shit book 31
quest 15: read a book with a female or non-binary MC
Profile Image for elena ❀  .
252 reviews2,607 followers
August 29, 2021
For what it offers, such as the fake dating trope, grumpy x sunshine, and, in a way, hate to love, Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating is a quick and enjoyable read, but it did not feel fleshed out enough.

Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating follow Hani and Ishu, who are complete opposites yet find themselves in the same situation. Hani is sociable, popular, and well-loved. Everything for her is going fine, but when she comes out to her two best friends as bisexual, they invalidate her feelings and tell her she can't be bisexual because she's never dated a girl, so Hani tells them she is dating Ishu, who is the girl her friends don't like. Ishu, on the other hand, is an academic overachiever, does not socialize, and is grumpy. After her sister reveals some news to her family, Ishu feels the need to prove herself to her parents, becoming Head Girl, but to do that, she knows she needs to socialize with her peers. So, like Hani, she finds herself asking her for help. The two create what they call the "Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating" to help themselves pretend they're dating, but for two Bengali girls, nothing comes off as easy.

I heard about Adiba Jaigirdar from her debut, The Henna Wars, but found myself putting it on hold/unofficially marking it as DNF because it was no longer something I was in the mood for, but Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating was a pretty enjoyable read. Despite the three stars, there's a lot to appreciate and love about this. It deals with racism, islamophobia, biphobia, and more important topics, but it also deals with parental support and finding love in the people you least expect to.

One of the most heartwarming parts about this is the parental support Hani has with her parents. They're accepting of her bisexuality that she even questions how people like her white Irish friends can't support their children when her brown, immigrant, and slightly conservative parents can. It was heartwarming. Her mom admits that they had to change their perspective of the life they had imagined for Hani because they knew that Hani could, at one point, do the complete opposite of what they had in mind. I loved the support she had from both of her parents and how it never caused or added trouble to their relationship.

However, there aren't many moments between Hani and her parents that really show us their relationship, so it can be a little difficult to see how they have all grown as a family and how much has changed. Most of the time they spend together deals with either her dad's political campaign or her mother is there to support Hani when she's struggling. Because of how different the parental relationship felt to other YA families, especially with how they are a POC family, are culturally and religiously connected, and are currently trying to make a political difference, I wish we could have seen more moments between them to make the relationship feel a lot closer.

Sometimes, I feel astonished at how easy Amma and Abba have made things for me. How easily I can be myself with them. How easily they’ll accept everything about me and their willingness to talk things out.

Hani's friends, Aisling and Dee, as opposed to her parents, are toxic, manipulating, and rude. They invalidate Hani's bisexuality when she comes out and tell her she can't be bisexual because she's never dated a girl, wondering how she can know her sexual orientation or know what she feels when she's never dated. Hani feels the need to prove to them she is who she says she is, and we follow her the entire book trying her best to show them she's right. It takes a while for her to finally realize her friends are not who she thought she was, and in my opinion, it all felt annoyingly real. Although this takes place in Dublin, Hani's friends are what some American kids act like, especially the popular girls with daddy's money. They don't care about understanding the religion of Islam and the difference between halal and haram, or pronouncing Hani's birth name, or understanding that there are many different cultural and religious backgrounds between them, as white people, versus Hani's brown family. While this is nothing new, it shows the toxicity between Hani and her friends, as well as realistic scenarios.

Yet, what felt strange to me here is how the blurb of this book says, "Everyone likes Humaira "Hani" Khan—she’s easy-going and one of the most popular girls at school." I honestly just wondered how Hani was popular when she only hung out with Aisling and Dee, never really talked to anyone else and had no one really approach her, and felt like her life only revolved around Aisling and Dee. This can even tie back to the fake dating between her and Ishu and how Hani helps her "become more popular" to win votes to become Head Girl. Even towards the end, when Hani starts handing out cupcakes to the other students, the conversations she had with them felt awkwardly new, like none of them really knew Hani. Sometimes I wondered how and why Ishu even looked to Hani for help in winning votes when it felt like even Hani didn't know or have anyone besides her friends.

“I hope you know that you deserve better friends than Aisling and Deirdre,” Ishu says finally. “Friends who you don’t have to hide yourself from, and who don’t try to get you to be someone you’re not.”

On the other hand, Ishu is trying to become Head Girl to prove her worth to her parents. As an academic overachiever, she feels the need to show her parents their sacrifices have all been worth it, especially after seeing how disappointed they became in her sister's decision to take one year off university and get married. Seeing how they don't support her, she doesn't want that for herself, and after her sister didn't become Head Girl, Ishu feels like everything is now on her. She feels pressured to do her best and make her parents proud, more than they already are, and one way to do that is by becoming Head Girl and becoming someone important in her school. This really showed how her parents were manipulating Ishu herself, and this is something so common in brown and immigrant families, especially when you're a first-generation immigrant child. You feel pressured to do your best and prove yourself, yet no matter how far you go, there's always going to be something that will disappoint your parents, one way or another, no matter how far you truly go.

I loved seeing how this was represented, although it was also so sad. I felt bad for Ishu, and I wish she had listened to her sister a little more before she finally concluded that she, in fact, does not want what her parents want for her. It felt painfully raw because of how common it is and because it's part of the identity Ishu has to hide. While her sexual orientation is never stated, we know Ishu likes girls, yet it's something she hides from her parents. Even at the end, when she and Hani are dating for real, she's still in hiding, and we don't know when or how she comes out to her parents (if she ever does). This added to her character growth because it showed how Ishu was scared to make her parents even more disappointed.

Yet, I feel like her character development, such as her epiphany of realizing she doesn't care anymore, felt a little too quick and underdeveloped. I don't know if it's because the book is short or not, but I would have expected more from this realization. Ishu has this goal of becoming Head Girl, and it's her priority. We spend at least 90% of the book with Ishu's inner monologue and dialogue with her sister, Hani, and even her parents, telling us that she's going to prove to them they can have hope with her. Yet, it isn't until the end where she, out of nowhere (or at least it felt that way), tells her sister that she doesn't want to be Head Girl anymore. It felt quickly wrapped up, abruptly, and underdeveloped because of how little interaction and time there was about this decision.

Not only that, but even after she decided to drop out of applying to be Head Girl, it was instantly forgotten, like the topic of it wasn't one of the biggest parts of the plot. I even have questions after this was done: Does she tell her parents? If so, what do they think? Are they disappointed? Who becomes Head Girl? Does she still end up being a top student? I had hoped there would have been at least a couple of pages of her with her parents after she realizes she doesn't want to become Head Girl just because her realization didn't feel like it was elaborated on enough. As a matter of fact, I feel like, even though she doesn't want to become Head Girl, I can't tell if she is following the same steps as her sister. I can't tell if she still wants to go to medical school and become a doctor, attend one of the best and top universities, and finally make her parents proud, or if it really is something she doesn't want to do as well. In short, Ishu's character felt hanging loosely. There was more to it I wish we received from her.

This is what we’ve been working for my whole life. Not just me, but them too. They moved us here, to this country, to have a better life. To have a shot at all of the things that they didn’t have a shot at.

There's a lot of cultural and religious representation about this, and it's beautiful at times while heartbreaking at others. For example, there's much Bengali representation, especially in terms of food, language, and celebrations between family members and friends. There's also Muslim representation, specifically between Hani and her family. While Hani embraces her religion and practices it, at the same time, she hides it from her friends to comply with what they want. This even felt relatable to me, and it's sickening. Not only do her friends not accept or understand her sexuality, but they don't understand the different cultural and religious backgrounds between them. Unfortunately, it's common between interracial relationships and friendships and shows how difficult it can be to have a positive relationship because one or more individuals decide not to understand the other's perspective.

This all shows the stereotypical perspective many have of brown individuals and families. While a lot in the book is naturally common, a lot is also added to emphasize the reality they face, especially when they're immigrant parents or children living in predominantly white areas. For example, how Hani and Ishu are the only two brown and South Asian girls, so many assume they are the same. Or how Hani's friends judge her father for running to be a political candidate because he has an accent. Or how they can't, for the life of them, bring themselves to mention terms like bisexuality and think heterophobia is a thing. They're the typical white feminist girls, and they make for a lot of eye-rolling and annoyance. It adds to the whitewashing Hani didn't realize she was becoming absorbed in, which leads me to my last critical point.

To most white people, just having brown skin is going to mean we’re one and the same.

While this YA contemporary touches on many important topics, the romance is also a big part of the story, yet did not feel fully fleshed out either. Because Hani believes Aisling and Dee are her best friends, she doesn't try to understand Ishu's side of the story with the accusation Aisling throws at her. I feel as if this would have been better, and even cuter, if Hani had realized how toxic her friends truly were before and spent some of that last 20% of the story with Ishu, whether it was them dating for real or dealing with an apology for her. Right from the beginning, Hani knows that her friends are . . . pretty shitty, yet it takes her around up to 90% of the novel to truly realize it and finally get rid of them. Not only was this done quickly, but it even left a confusing tone. It led to Hani and Ishu sharing a cute kiss, yet it felt too quick because everything was coming together. It was one of those typical moments in stories, especially romances, where the unnecessary drama is wrapped up in a couple of pages, like 1-3, and it's all forgotten as if it never happened in the first place. This is one reason why I had trouble accepting the relationship. We have added the common and unloved miscommunication trope, but the relationship between Hani and Ishu felt like it could have developed more. There weren't enough moments between them to make me believe in their mutual pining, let alone the decision to get together. It felt wrapped up too quickly.

One thing that started annoying me quite a lot was the constant use of ellipsis. It was literally added in every conversation, whether between Hani and Ishu, Hani and her friends, Hani and her family, Ishu and her sister, or Ishu and her parents. It was something I didn't notice at first, and then I tried not to let it bother me, but it got to the point where it was used everywhere and anywhere that I got annoyed. I understand sometimes it's common for sentences and words to drag out. Still, since I'm the type of reader that silently reads with the little voice in my head, I read every conversation using the ellipsis, which only made my reading progress slower. I truly wondered if everyone really spoke like that because I have never come across a conversation like that all the time.

In conclusion, Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating touches on many important topics and conversations. Still, it also drags in pacing, making the story less enjoyable and the relationship a little less believable.
Profile Image for theresa.
276 reviews4,266 followers
May 28, 2021
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating was an utter joy to read. Jaigirdar perfectly balances rom com hijinks and all the fluttery feelings of first love with a nuanced exploration of family and social issues to create an adorable, relevant story. Jaigirdar’s sophomore novel is a must read for all fans of her debut, The Henna Wars, and any and all contemporary lovers.

I flew through Hani and Ishu in just a couple of days and loved every minute of it. With characters so full of personality they leapt off the page, the absolute sweetest romance and a really interesting and well developed storyline that delved into complex issues, such as familial expectations, biphobia and connections to culture, this book was just unputdownable. Reading both of Jaigirdar’s novels back to back really emphasised to me how cleverly written they are to strike a balance between dealing with tough issues while remaining overall lighthearted romance novels and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. Additionally, I have to praise how accessible Jaigirdar makes these issues for her readers, without ever condescending to younger readers or coddling those not from a South Asian background (especially white readers).

Despite being lumped in together as the only two South Asian girls in their school, Hani and Ishu could not be less alike and this is made clear right from the beginning. Both girls’ perspectives have incredibly distinct voices and personalities, as we shift between human sunshine and people pleaser, Hani and intense, grumpy overachiever Ishu. I really loved the distinction between our two narrators and their circumstances and the focus this book puts on the problems of ignoring this. Additionally, Hani’s character arc and the narrative around fitting in, even at the expense of yourself and your connection to your culture, was brilliantly written and one I’m sure will resonate with many readers.

The two girls’ individual developments and the way they each played into this was expertly written and such a pleasure to read. I adore the grumpy / sunshine dynamic and it was perfectly executed here, with both girls learning from the other while remaining true to themselves. I especially loved watching Ishu soften for Hani (and only Hani), as hard as she tried to fight it. Speaking of tropes, Hani and Ishu gave me everything I could ever ask for from the fake dating trope, from the awkward tension to begin with, the fluttery crush feelings and all of the adorable complications it brings. I really just adored reading about Hani and Ishu’s relationship, with all of its rom com clichés (kissing in the rain, anyone?) and a deep connection and empathy for the other.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating’s narrative of learning to put yourself first and refusing to hide essential parts of yourself to make other people more comfortable was brilliantly written and one I’m sure will resonate with many readers, especially teenagers from similar backgrounds to Hani and Ishu. This novel expertly combines all the adorable rom com goodness you could ever want with a poignant look at family, friendship and social issues to create a heartwarming, impactful story. Adiba Jaigirdar is a force to be reckoned with whose work deserves a space on every shelf.

Want some sapphic adorableness in your life? Check out my reading vlog ft. The Henna Wars

I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter

*Thank you Hachette Kids for sending me a finished copy. This has not affected my review.*
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
3,938 reviews2,165 followers
November 19, 2022
I just couldn't stop reading this book.... And it gave me so much happiness!

*Some relatable lines:

"Right now, all men seem overwhelmingly unattractive - except the ones on the Netflix shows I watch."

"Sometimes I think that maybe I like guys more as a concept than a reality."

"My desk has a pile of unreturned and unread library books that is half as tall as me."

"I have resting b face, I can't help it."

"Family is complicated. Everyone has a different relationship to their family."

And yes, no matter how repetitive this line is everywhere else:

"People aren't always who they seem to be."

And the stereotypes:

"We are culturally similar and, therefore, must be meant for each other. Never mind the vast differences in our language or our religious beliefs."

"To most white people, just having brown skin is going to mean we're one and the same."

I felt pain while reading this:
"I mean, like ... I don't want to be too ... Muslim. I don't know where the line is that you cross over to be too much. Once you cross it people start acting like you're different and weird, and then you're the outsider."
The humour in the writing! All the emotions! I am so glad this young adult isn't cliché at all. Thank you!

And most importantly the family vibes, the sibling vibes; the mother-daughter relationship and the sister-sister bond and the chemistry between the main characters. It's so feel-good. I needed these!

I love the writing. It's just something that went so fast and good that I was really wishing the book never ended.

The characters have a different, unique personality of their own and I really appreciate it whenever books offer such realistic writing and stories.

The story deals with cultural differences and being judged or criticised for it, peer pressure, family traditions, friendship (the fakeness and the reality of it) and identity.

I liked how everything wrapped up well in the end. Feeling so warm and loved you know! When a book makes you feel like this, just embrace it and make it yours. This is a special feeling you don't get everytime.

I just love Hani's parents so much. Everyone deserves parents like them.

I love the book so much more than I had anticipated. Easily one of my favourite new releases.

Just one thing though, author. Kindly translate the conversations that were not written in English right there and then. That would be quite helpful. Thank you.

*People, young and old, can we please stop EVERYTHING what we are doing and listen to this:
"Why is she friends with people who don't let her be who she is? Who make her feel uncomfortable and embarassed of who she is?"

Let's answer this honestly. Not for anyone but for ourselves.

And yes, some people will never change no matter what. It's more difficult to accept especially when they are your family. And this story let's you see it. Well done.
Profile Image for Adiba Jaigirdar.
Author 10 books2,510 followers
April 2, 2021
Hi everyone! We're less than 2 months until the release of this book, and I can't wait for everyone to read it!

If you pre-order a copy, make sure you fill out this Google form, in order to avail of some pre-order goodies, including a signed bookplate, bookmarks, an exclusive digital short story that takes place after the events of the book, and an art print! More info on my Twitter!

The content warnings for this book are printed at the front, but they're also available on my content warnings page

Pre-order links are available on my website, along with excerpts, blurbs, and a spotify playlist!
Profile Image for Kezia Duah.
356 reviews223 followers
March 20, 2022
The world can be cruel to people who have different values, and Hani and Ishu’s lives depict this very well. I was so angry at times, but Jaigirdar balanced that with some heartwarming parts. Representation does matter so thank you Jaigirdar.

The title is not trying to trick you, Hani and Ishu do fake date. Ishu is not really a people person and tends to be more focused on academics. She wants to be elected as head girl, but since she's not popular, this might be a hard thing for her to accomplish. Hani is popular and comes out to her toxic friends as bisexual. She tells them that she’s dating Ishu because she always feels the need to prove herself to them. Ishu is a bit hesitant at first but soon sees this as her chance to use this to become popular and subsequently become head girl.

“Do you want a friend in your life who you can never disagree with? A friend who you can’t grow with it.”
Hani’s friends were HORRIBLE. I was so mad at them for the way they treated her. I couldn’t be mad at Hani, because I actually understood her. It’s not easy always explaining the many facets of your identity to white girls who could honestly not give a pint. Their approval was nauseatingly everything to her, to the point that she ends up disappointing Ishu and her own family. This part of the plot is very realistic for a lot of people, but of course, in a book, we need to see some growth!!! Does Hani ever get the courage to stand up to her friends?

Ishu��s relationship with her family was also big in this one, particularly her sister, Nik. Their family doesn’t talk to Nik because they don’t agree with her decisions. This was really sad to see, and Ishu thought Nik's disappointment was her chance to impress her parents. Her relationship with Nik was complicated at the beginning, but how does that possibly change at the end?

Hani and Ishu were very cute!! Their relationship developed really well since they learned to understand each other. I think the romance aspect was lacking a little bit because it lowkey felt more like a friendship. THEY WERE STILL CUTE!!! Some parts of this book were actually pretty funny. Hani describing Ishu’s smile as one that looked like she was in pain, or like she had a gun to her head really got me.
Another thing that deserves a shout-out is how Jaigirdir illustrates schools can sometimes favor some students above other students.

I honestly think this book is really great and would definitely recommend!

Profile Image for katie ❀.
120 reviews470 followers
March 20, 2022
ok but the way this book tackles so many relevant issues while also keeping the tone light is beyond my understanding!! hani & ishu are such a cute couple i don't make the rules
Profile Image for Harrow.
313 reviews39 followers
March 8, 2021
I picked this book up hoping for a fluffy f/f fake dating and while it was that, it was also much more. This was such an emotional read. It didn't start out as such but gradually it got hold of my heart and started squeezing so hard that I was sobbing by the end. The Muslim representation is amazing here. No other piece of media has ever made me feel seen as much as Adiba Jaigirdar's book have. I love the sense of community and culture in her books.

I cannot describe how wonderful the characterization in this book is. It amazes me how much connected I always feel to this author's characters. They always feel so realistic. They are flawed and lifelike. I am unable to articulate how seen Hani's relationship with her religion made me feel. How I cried over her friends treatment of her during the party scene. And how I connected with Ishu to the point that every offence to Ishu felt personal to me.

What frustrated me to the point of tears was this.

The romance was lowkey grumpy x sunshine. The slowburn was amazing and Hani and Ishu were adorable together for the most part.. But the romance kinda lost me when

The sibling relationship here was my most favourite thing. Nik was the only person who was truly in Ishu's corner and supported her against Aisling's false allegations. Ishu deserved much better then her unsupportive parents, her racist school and even Hani's 'I'm so confused' attitude.

All in all, while this book is by no means perfect, I would 100% recommend it. If only for the myriad of emotions it instilled in me. It took me from smiling to crying to feeling so angry I could punch a wall. And it was all thanks to the author's exceptional writing.

Copy provided by the publisher, via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Mrinmayi.
155 reviews570 followers
Shelved as 'willsacrifice-maryams-soul-for-this'
December 19, 2020
I read the surname "Dey" and I was like, "Ohhh..BENGALI girl!!!!"
Don't ask me how I knew it
Well.. I have a talent where I can tell which state the person belongs to... based on the surname(I am right most of the times *flips hair*)
It's probably the only talent I have xD

BUT back to the review...
BOTH the MCs are Bengali!!
Sooo..there will be Bengali food rt???!!!! *screams in happiness *
Its been a while since I've had Bengali food *sighs* (I haven't eaten Bengali FOOD in a while.. I do eat Bengali sweets quiet often tho)
No one asked me..but my favorite Bengali sweet is Ras malai !!

I HIGHLY recommend this sweet!!

I should REALLY concentrate on writing the review *bangs head*
Soo from the description I KNOW this book will have

🎆 Fake Dating
🎆 Opposites attract
🎆 Grumpy/sunshine trope
🎆 This trope:

🎆 Mrin trying to adopt both the MCs trope
🎆 Mrin crying when those two girls are having troubles trope
🎆 Mrin drooling over the food trope
🎆 Mrin going mama bear over the villain who tries to separate them trope
Profile Image for aashna.
196 reviews124 followers
September 16, 2021
babe wake up new comfort read just dropped! i finished this book in less than two hours and i loved every second of it. i've never really been that into fake dating as a trope but i loved how this book was written. i saw myself in hani as she tried to mold herself to meet her friends' expectations even if they were outright disgusting to her and smiled through it all; i saw myself in ishu as she tried desperately to live up to her parents' expectations at the cost of her social life; and i saw myself in nikhita as she tried to be the best elder sister she could be despite her and her sister's circumstances. the descriptions of desi culture made me feel warm and at home and, like adiba's debut, the henna wars, gave me a window into bengali culture and customs. as i mentioned before, i really connected to both hani and ishu and their relationships with those around them. the romance was built up really expertly and it was really cute to see the relationship bloom from both hani and ishu's perspectives. all the characters were fleshed out and their arcs beautifully crafted and written. i felt so seen throughout this book and it was really the desi sapphic romcom i needed right now!

second read: yeah somehow i cried even more this time

third read: i enjoy mental stability
Profile Image for AbbysBooks.
71 reviews2,737 followers
January 19, 2022
This book was like a warm hug for me. I wish I had something like this when I was in my height of reading YA fiction growing up.
Hani and Ishu are potentially the two most loveable protagonists I have ever read about and I was behind them the whole way. Obviously the miscommunication was a bit of a pain at times but they’re young teenagers figuring themselves out so it was also very relatable.
I feel that this book will be so important to many individuals who read it and that brings me nothing but joy.
My only criticism would be the repetition of certain phrases and descriptions and sometimes the writing felt a bit list-like I’d you get me?

Other than that I really enjoy this book and devoured it in less than a day
Profile Image for dezzy.
160 reviews
June 3, 2021
4 stars.

omg.....i rly finished this entire book in less than a day......love that for me :)) this book reminded me of why i love YA contemporaries so much, maybe i haven't outgrown the genre after all 👀

seriously though, once i picked up Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating, i could NOT put it down. this was such a quick, sweet, and fun read and my heart feels so full with alllll the emotions <3 i loved so many characters and hated so many others, and let me just say, i love when books can evoke such strong feelings out of me :')

the characters were so well-developed and i loved how three-dimensional and real they felt. Hani was such a compassionate, outgoing, and kind person, always willing to help others, while Ishu was more reserved, but very confident and self-assured, never caring what others thought of her. i saw myself in both Hani and Ishu, and i loved that, despite how different they were, Hani and Ishu were still able to help each other grow. experiencing both of their journeys of self-growth and realizing their worth - realizing that they're allowed to take up space in the world as themselves - was very empowering. Hani's character arc especially resonated with me, and i was so happy when she finally realized what she deserved (which is the WORLD 😌) by the end of the book <3

while the romance is a huge aspect of the book (Hani and Ishu are SO adorable ahh 💓), i really appreciated how Adiba Jaigirdar portrayed so many other relationships as well. Hani's amma was actually the BEST, i honestly teared up over how Hani's amma was always so so supportive of her daughter 💗 i want more supportive parents in queer books pls. and Ishu's relationship with her sister made me surprisingly emotional over how much i could resonate with it - it's honestly the first time i've ever felt like i could relate to a sibling relationship in a book. Ishu and her older sister had a very rocky relationship, but at the end of the day, they were still there for each other. just because you're sisters doesn't always mean you're close, but you show up for them when it matters. i really appreciated how the author depicted the complexity and messiness that sibling relationships can be :') lastly, i literally spent 99% of this book screaming over how Hani's friends (if i can even call them that 😤) were the absolute WORST, ugh honestly i'm still so mad at them sldkfjsdlkjf anyone who has read this book, please scream with me 😭😭

the writing was so easy to fly through - let's all thank Adiba Jaigirdar for singlehandedly pulling me out of a reading slump 😩 especially compared to the disaster that was my last read, this book really felt like the rainbow after a storm (lol i'm not salty at all about the last book i read a h a h a h a h a what are u talking about 🤭) but anyway, i really did enjoy the writing in this book, it was very understandable and easy to digest :) this book is set in Dublin, Ireland, with Bengali main characters, and i loved learning more about Bengali culture and life in Ireland! i spent a lot of time googling specific terms pertaining to Ireland which was fun haha

overall, i had so much fun reading this book (as you can tell by the fact i finished it in less than a day haha). the only reason it's not a 5-star read is because i feel like everything got wrapped up a lil too quickly in the end, and i wish we got to see more scenes of Hani and Ishu's relationship developing :') (they're truly the cutest ok <3) i definitely highly recommend this book if you're looking for a lighthearted, adorable YA contemporary sapphic romance, with beautifully developed characters + relationships and queer Bengali & Muslim rep :) this book was a literal serotonin boost - truly the best way to start off pride month 🥺
Profile Image for Mads.
179 reviews283 followers
June 16, 2021
i wanted to give this book 5 stars but the scene where they first kiss made me so deeply uncomfortable that i just can’t do that. effectively ishu just kisses hani, without even asking if it’s okay, when hani is literally crying. i’m so tired of the “kiss without consent” trope because it triggers some very bad memories for me, so if you’re going to read this book just be aware of that please.

also just for the record; if aisling or dee were real, then i would 100% fight them (and i think we ALL know they wouldn’t be able to fight).
Profile Image for literarylesbian.
226 reviews2,360 followers
May 31, 2021
(4.5 stars, rounded down)

In the end I really enjoyed this book, and I'm a really big fan of Adiba's writing style. My only 'qualms' (if you could even call them that) was that the story seemed to drag on a bit in the middle. I think this is a common concern in a lot of slow burn books, so I wasn't exactly surprised by this.

After I hit the 50% marker, I literally couldn't put this book down. I really enjoyed how this book made me care so much about pieces of paper. I literally had to pace around my room at some moments so I could refrain from taking out my anger on my innocent book.

I was also really glad with how Hani's relationship with her friends was resolved (ambiguity here for the sake of maintaining a spoiler free review). I would've been so pissed at the book if things had gone differently, and there were some moments where I was a little worried, but all is well.

I really enjoy when any book features aspects of the author's own culture and identity, because it allows me to be able to listen and learn in a way that doesn't force marginalized people to serve as a teacher for me. I loved learning about little pieces of Bengali culture along the way as I was reading and thought it was really interesting as well!

I 100% recommend this book to any lover of contemporary romance. And it hits on all the best tropes; fake dating and there was only one bed.
Profile Image for Noah.
144 reviews22 followers
September 22, 2022
Do you ever read a book that’s almost too relatable? I liked this book a lot overall, but there were several points where this book became challenging to read. Every time Hani had to deal with her biphobic “friends” and the way they managed to invalidate both her cultural heritage and sexuality in every one of their appearances made me hesitate to pick it up every time. In fact, I think too much time was spent on them, as by the time I finished the book I was mildly annoyed that we spent so much time and energy on these toxic people.

Anyway, this is the part where I rant about annoying things that annoyed me. Hani’s dad gets mad at her for not canvasing for his political campaign and it’s presented as a real breaking point for her character arc, like “ooh how did she let all her priorities go awry boohoo,” and later her dad is all “I wasn’t mad because you didn’t help me, I was mad because you lied to me!” … Naaah I don’t buy that for one second, I think he was just being petty and then changed his reasoning in retrospect to maintain the moral high-ground. Also, I see this a lot in YA stories, where solidarity is used by having another character say stuff like “I’m cool with the queer thing, my brother’s gay!” and it’s supposed to be this super uplifting moment. Is it normal to just out people like that? Because I wouldn’t want people talking about me like I’m a prop. Okay, end of rant.

I did like the way Hani and Ishu’s relationship evolved in an organic way that you don’t always get in a romance book, let alone a YA novel; at first, Hani thinks Ishu is a standoffish jerk and Ishu thinks Hani is a superficial popular girl who only cares about “likes” on Instagram. The way these perceptions change over time is well done. So, I guess you could say in the end they were pretty “like-minded” after all. This isn’t the cute love story that I expected, because of all the gross people that they have to deal with, but I think that because of this realistic approach the book is better for it? Yeah, I think so.
Profile Image for Maëlys.
297 reviews270 followers
September 4, 2021
☆ 3 / 5 ☆

“Friends can talk about things. They can figure things out. Get past things. Do you want a friend in your life who you can never disagree with? A friend you can't grow with?”

This was a sweet read and a solid sophomore novel from Adiba Jaigirdar.

Ishu is a not so friendly, driven and focused student determined to follow in her sister’s academic footsteps and wishing to not feel so overshadowed by her. However, the latter decides to come back home and reveal she’ll be getting married and dropping out of uni for a year. This awakes something in Ishu who decides she has to become Head Girl to surpass her sister’s achievements and put her parents’ worries about her own future to rest.

On the other hand, Hani, also called Moira by her white friends and classmates, is sweet, accommodating, and popular. One day she finally decides to come out to her two best friends as bisexual but gets dismissed since she’s never had experience with a girl. Frustrated, she blurts out she’s dating Ishu. They don’t really know each other but Hani could help Ishu win the race for Head Girl and she wants to prove herself to her friends.

While Hani is a person who likes to keep the peace and be seen as non-confrontational, her budding friendship and relationship with Ishu starts giving her the courage to stand up for herself and her identity.

“We all need to fit in, or need to be loved, or need approval.”

As the only two brown girls in school, Hani and Ishu keep running into prejudices whether it comes to their sexuality, families or religion. Adiba Jaigirdar once again tackles these topics wonderfully and shows that friendships don’t stop people from being hurtful and disrespectful to your culture and religion. While I think the use of bad friends was done masterfully in The Henna Wars, this time around it feels a little more shoehorned in and the consequences didn’t feel cathartic enough for me.

I did however love seeing these two girls find comfort and understanding in each other in a way that would be impossible with their white peers. It was heartwarming to see them both shed societal and parental expectations together and draw from each other for inspiration while staying true to their own beliefs, growing together but in their own individual ways.

This is once again a very important book that just goes by quickly because the writing is engaging and it is so cute!! I’ll always have my eyes peeled for Adiba Jaigirdar’s releases and the words and stories she puts out into the world.

Profile Image for solanne.
194 reviews455 followers
August 16, 2021
i stand by my pre-review review of this, it was entirely delightful !!


Profile Image for katia.
299 reviews210 followers
June 12, 2022

2.5 ★

✧ I loved the representation, and I loved learning more about Bengali Muslims and Bengali people in general

✦ but, despite liking that aspect, this book honestly was not for me; mostly because it was a romance novel with hardly any romance.

✦ I ended up liking hani and ishu’s characters separately, and didn’t care much for their relationship.

✦ there were also sm forgotten plots I wanted to continue reading about (ishu coming out, if her parents came around to nik, what happened after hani talked to aisling and dee, etc.) and it was just weird to me that it ended off abruptly.

✦ the characters still didn’t really know what their priorities were, even though ishu figuring out what she actually wanted was so important.

✧ I did absolutely adore nik, and hani’s Amma, and how supportive they were, though. they were definitely my favourite characters.

Profile Image for Fanna.
979 reviews490 followers
Shelved as 'definitive-tbr'
May 14, 2021
May 13, 2021: I had almost given up on the possibility of reading this early but guess who has an e-arc now! Watch me read this cuteness over the weekend.

October 21, 2020: OH MY GOD THE COVER! The almost-touching-hands theme is common with The Henna Wars cover and I'm crying this is so cute.

August 12, 2020: After giving away my heart to The Henna Wars, I'm RIGHT HERE FOR ANYTHING ADIBA JAIGIRDAR WRITES but also, queer South-Asians fake dating would be so perfect especially after the author has promised 'romantic scenes in the rain' I MEANNN OMG!
Profile Image for ☆Pelumi☆.
259 reviews310 followers
Shelved as 'need-to-read-asap'
April 28, 2021
Fake dating=Happy Pelumi
Slow burn romance= Happy frustrated Pelumi
Queer CHARCTERS= Extremely happy Pelumi

In summary, there's no happiness till i read this book!!!

EDIT: Welcome y'all. This is the point where I have a full on mental breakdown because my request for an arc of this got declined so join me. Let's cry together!!
I did get to read an extract and that's just cruel because now I want it even more!!!🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺
Profile Image for Lena.
317 reviews226 followers
December 30, 2021
DNF 56%
If you enjoy books with zero drama and boring ass characters who fake date each other for whatever shit reason this might be the one for you!

This book is literally the definition of snooze fest. To get me to the 56% I read took me approximately 56 days, and I regret every life decision that lead me to purchasing this book.

All the characters are forgettable. And trust me, forgettable is definitely one of the nicer words to describe them. Other words would be boring as hell, indistinguishable from each other, and did I mention boring as hell?

It was like the author was creating characters in Sims, where you can only choose four character traits per Sim.

Oh, and one of the character traits she selected for both of her main characters is undoubtedly 'I'm Bengali', because that one fucking sentence was used over and over annnnd over again.
Like, we get it you are Bengali, congrats or whatever.

Kind of makes me wonder if there are really people out there that, I don't know, die when they don't mention where they are from every two minutes.

Maybe I would have enjoyed the book more if I had made a drinking game out of it. But, I guess, it wouldn't be worth it to get alcohol poisoning for something like that.

Anyway, back to the characters, like I said, both Hani and Ishu suck.

Ishu is literally that one annoying overachiever everyone had at least one class together with, y'know that one girl that cried if she didn't get full marks or that told everyone how she messed up the test then but ends up acing it anyway.
Yes, I'm talking about you Samantha.

Together with the huge stick up her ass and that lovely holier-than-thou attitude, she was far from my favorite ** so shocking, I know**

Just imagine Hermione at age 16 if she never became friends with Harry and Ron, and you get Ishu.

Not that Hani was a better character, because apparently she gets her kicks out of letting everyone treat her like living dog shit. Or maybe she is just too dumb to notice it - Oooopss I mean too NICE to notice, my bad, since y'know, she is the nice one.

And to be fair, she actually does stand up for herself! I mean not when her friends discriminate her culture and religion or claim that her bi-sexuality is fake, or when they make fun of her for not drinking or when they bully her or... uhm ... where was I?

Ah yes, she gets mad at her friends for not voting for her politician dad and for that they set her up with a boy as a date when they didn't even know she was Bi!
Like, can you believe them??? Doing something nice for their friend and wanting to vote for someone they actually want to vote for instead of voting for the guy just because he is the father of someone they know? The nerve of these people.

Hani is also supposed to be popular, but literally has only two friends, and maybe talks to one (1) other person in the whole goddamn novel. The entire point of them fake dating is that Ishu gains popularity by being with Hani, and how exactly is that even supposed to work if neither of them actually has friends?

I was never good at math, but something is not adding up here. The whole thing is just so fucking pointless, I could cry.

Not to mention that they had zero chemistry and were both waste of space.

While those two were bad enough, it was Hani's friends that really got on my nerves, besides Hani's complete ignorance of said friend's assholery ofc. But it wasn't even the fact that they were assholes that got me, it was that they were so fucking cliché.
The author (maybe I really should start remembering her name, so that I don't accidentally read another one of her books), probably just googled bad character traits and dumped all of them on her characters.

Why should Hani even be friends with them in the first place, when they don't have a single good quality? I just give me one fucking reason, for fucks sake.

I was at least hoping for some drama. I NEEDED the drama.
But of course there was nothing. Nothing at all.

And it's not like there was no potential for drama, the religious dad, the other kids at their all-girls school, or even the asshole friends. But for the first 50%, NOTHING HAPPENS.

Even when they outed themselves, the whole thing goes apparently super smoothly and was over in one page, and then we got a time skip to one week later.

I... I can't... I have not enough words how much I loathe this time skip. Everyone knows that the first few days are essential to fake-dating, so why would you fucking skip them???

There is also zero discussing how Hani feels about being religious and gay, or how their family's feel about that. Maybe it comes later in the book, I sure hope it does, but I guess I'll never know.

The worst thing about this book was the message behind it, though. The author preaches over and over again that we should respect people of other cultures, but at the same time this book's sole purpose is bashing white people, because literally all white people in this book are ignorant fucks. And since they all are ignorant fucks, the two Bengali girls stick together, isolated from the rest.
**cough hypocrite cough ***

So that's it. I'm done, and I surely won't be coming back to finish this book.

Thank you next!
Profile Image for Eva B..
1,088 reviews305 followers
July 9, 2022
After being majorly disappointed by The Henna Wars, I had tempered my expectations for this one, which was a mistake. I absolutely loved Hani and Ishu (Ishu was my favorite of the two, but it was a very close call) and a lot of my issues with THW (irritating protagonist, a romance that didn't feel romantic, and issues in the friend group that weren't addressed) were either gone or handled much better. I wanted to fistfight Aisling, but that was definitely the author's intent aha.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
625 reviews1,687 followers
July 25, 2021
Balancing the softness of falling in love and a serious exploration of racism and toxic friendships, Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating is a delightful young-adult romance with great emotional depth.

- Follows sunshine/grumpy pair Hani, the sunshine and popular girl who blurts out that she's dating a girl when her friends invalidate her bisexuality, and Ishu, the grumpy and studious girl who Hani ropes in - and accepts because she wants to be head girl.
- I liked how the fake-dating in this, and I enjoyed the emotional beats where Hani and Ishu not only start to fall for each other, but the other girl brings out the better parts of the other.
- I loved how the story explores family - that there's nuance to family dynamics, especially desi families. Ishu's parents are strict and have expectations of their daughters, whereas Hani's parents are accepting of her bisexuality.
- The story does explore racism that brown girls face, and how white girls are often framed as victims, even when they are perpetrators. It also explores toxic friendships.

Content warning: racism (challenged), anti-bisexual rhetoric (challenged)
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