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The Henna Wars

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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 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 realizes there might be more to her than she realized.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published May 12, 2020

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About the author

Adiba Jaigirdar

11 books2,929 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 4,212 reviews
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.7k followers
December 2, 2020
"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 favourite things in this book was Nishat's relationship with her sister Priti. These two always have each other's back and yes they fight but mostly they giggle and cuddle and support one another. It was such a wholesome dynamic and it balanced out the more heavy-hitting parts of the novel. Reading this made me think of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and how Simon struggles with coming out and bullying. And yeah he had a shit time but what he didn't have to deal with was the constant racism from his classmates or the narrow-mindedness and blatant homophobia from his family. It's unfair to compare these two experiences because they both really struggled. What I want to say is that I cannot even start to comprehend how hard it must be to not scream 24/7 when you're fighting so many different battles at the same time. I was so angry that Nishat was made to feel small by almost everyone around her just for being herself. She had to fight hate crimes from classmates, racist and homophobic remarks, the exploitation of her culture and often there wasn't anything she could do to fight back because no one would listen...life as a queer Person of Colour in a white supremacist environment leaves scars and I think this novel is extremely insightful and effective in portraying that struggle. I felt so much resentment and frustration and it makes sense that marginalised communities are much more likely to struggle with mental health issues than more privileged people when everything is out to get them.

Now, I know that sounds heavy - and it was at times - but I have to say that this was a super successful, cute, funny and romantic contemporary. And there is a very happy ending! I laughed a lot and while I think the romance aspect could have been even better by smoothing out a few scenes, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I enjoyed seeing two girls of colour falling in love. I enjoyed seeing Nishat's parents come around and be supportive. I really enjoyed the queer, Muslim, and overall diverse representation. The Henna Wars is already one of my all-time favourite books and I encourage everyone to read this.

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,992 reviews298k followers
May 13, 2020
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 heartbroken at their reaction. This tension at home is in addition to already feeling like a pariah at school, after the most popular girl in her year decided to spread racist rumours about her. It feels like her sister, Priti, is the only one on her side. Enter Flávia.

Flávia is the beautiful biracial (black Brazilian and white Irish) girl that Nishat can't seem to get out of her mind. Her feelings become confused, however, when their teacher announces a business competition with a cash prize and Flávia decides to go with the same idea as Nishat: henna tattoos.

What follows is an impossible-to-look-away-from competition that gets nastier and nastier before it ever resolves, raising questions of cultural appropriation and racism along the way. This is one of those books where I can see people saying they dislike the protagonist. Nishat is very stubborn and alienates a lot of people, but I couldn’t help but think she was… right. I don’t know if some people will think Nishat is being petty, but if so, I guess I am exactly that kind of petty because I was 100% on her side.

Also, she's just really kinda funny:
Her eyes are bright, but hooded. Intense.
She's inching forward.
Is there a heterosexual explanation for why she's moving forward?

"Muslims aren't gay," she whispers, like this is a hard and fast rule. She's still turned away from me, looking out the window like the outside world will have some solution to my lesbian problem.

I can't stand the way she says my name: Neesh-hat, like I'm a niche hat.

I found it extremely compelling. The competition dynamic and some of the things that really pissed me off made me want to keep reading. I enjoyed the brief call-out of religious hypocrisy (how people will claim being gay is wrong, but pick and choose which other parts of a religion to follow) and all the talk of delicious Bengali food.

There were a couple of less strong points. Some of the plot turns were glaringly obvious many chapters in advance, such as and , but I'm not sure that knowing that really weakens the overall story. I didn't totally buy into her . I also thought it was strange that we never got an update on her Nanu.

These are only minor quibbles, though. I really do highly recommend it. It contains themes that should interest even adult readers, but is also clean and simple enough for younger readers (as long as you're okay with mild profanity like "shit"). It's several important lessons wrapped up in a heartwarming romance.

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Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,070 followers
July 9, 2020
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 their rejection and denial of her lesbian identity. Among this, she has to deal with racism and homophobia at her school and a business competition in which her culture is appropriated.

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.

While there are so many things to love about this book, I think I love Nishat herself the most. She’s an incredible character written so, so well, and the level of attention that the author pays to her is delightfully satisfying. Nishat yearns to be unapologetically herself in a world that will do anything to stop her, and it’s both heartbreaking yet inspiring to read.

There are two relationships that Nishat has that really stand out to me, the ones with Flávia, her crush, and Priti, her sister. The romance is so sweet and you want them to be together so much, and throughout the story Nishat wonders, Does Flávia like girls? Can I get together with my business rival who’s appropriating my culture? But even though the romance is a big part of the novel, it also doesn’t overtake Nishat’s own personal development, which I loved!

I also adored the way Nishat and Priti were close; in fact, I think their relationship was more prominent than the romance, which I appreciated. Their relationship is probably the closest sister relationship I’ve read, and as someone close to my sister, I loved seeing Nishat and Priti support each other throughout the story.

I wouldn’t call this story a cute fluffy story, though. It deals with racism and homophobia, and throughout the book, Nishat has to deal with her culture, henna, being appropriated by others for profit. But the author handles these intricately and effectively balances them out with more lighthearted content!

But sometimes just being yourself—really, truly yourself—can be the most difficult thing to be.

I can’t speak on the specifics of the representation, but as a sapphic Asian child of immigrants like Nishat, there was so many scenes that resonated with me. I’m incredibly fortunate not to have homophobic parents who come from a country where being gay is punishable by death, but I relate to Nishat’s grief over having to hide who she is like it’s a dirty secret, relate to Nishat’s struggle to reconcile her conservative homeland’s ideas about who she is, relate to Nishat’s heartache over feeling out of place in a majorly white world.

I also appreciated how the author critiqued Bangladesh and the homophobic beliefs the people there carry, but also celebrated and showed Nishat’s love for her Bengali culture. It represents a struggle for so many queer immigrants of color—to now live in a country where your sexuality is more accepted, but to still yearn for your homeland, even though they might reject you for your sexuality.

How can you feel fully loved and accepted when there’s a part of you that’s different and unwanted in both your homes? How can you feel whole when the separate parts of your identity are supposed to somehow cancel each other out? How can you be Bengali, and lesbian, and Muslim, and not feel like all those things are tearing at you? These are the questions Nishat has to find the answers to, and exactly why ownvoices stories are needed—I’m not sure a queer author or author of color may have captured the nuances of the QPOC experience as well as this.

“I love you, Apujan,” she whispers. “And I’m so damn proud of you. I hope you know that.”

There were a few times where I wasn’t quite in love with the writing style. I sometimes found it to be a bit bland, and I also wished we had seen a bit more from the side characters. Also, this isn’t really true rivals to lovers (it’s more childhood friends who are now business rivals but don’t hate each other), which threw me off a bit. These things might have been enough to lower my rating just slightly—if not for how much I absolutely adored Nishat and connected to her! I was just so invested in her and her journey, and I think every reader will feel the same.

Overall, I adored this book, and I cannot wait for more readers to get their hands on it, especially sapphic people of color. It’s a story I deeply related to, and one I know others will too. Beyond that, it’s a cute sapphic romance that manages to tackle social issues without making things too heavily, and while your heart will break at some parts, you definitely will find yourself smiling by the end!


:: rep :: Bengali Muslim lesbian MC, Brazilian-Irish (Afro-Latinx) bisexual LI, side Bengali characters, side Korean character

:: content warnings :: racism, homophobia, bullying, a character being outed

Thank you to Page Street for 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 emma.
1,869 reviews54.5k followers
August 12, 2020
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:
- This story follows a lesbian Muslism Bangladeshi girl (Nishat) and a bisexual Brazilian Black girl (Flávia), both living in Ireland, and all of the rep is so fascinating to read about. Also, rare for me as a reader. (I can’t speak to whether the rep is well-done, obviously, not being of those groups, but I enjoyed it immensely.)
- The IDEA of it - the exploration of cultural appropriation - is bold and cool.
- At times, the romance is very cute.

But it’s me, so I have complaints. These complaints are:
- SO MUCH happens in this, and SO MUCH of that feels rushed. Examples:
- At the start of this book, Flávia blatantly doesn’t understand cultural appropriation, and takes and profits off of the parts of Nishat’s culture she deems cool. This is kind of resolved (?), but not really. It’s more glossed over.
- Flávia’s cousin and best friend at school is the girl who bullied Nishat for her race and culture.
- Nishat is outed very close to the end (I don’t want to put this in spoiler tags in case it’s triggering for some - I know many people don’t want to read books in which people are outed, and I don’t blame them!)

- Nishat and Flávia’s romance has a TON of conflict, and it’s all just kind of...brushed under the rug.

But ultimately, for once, my major takeaway from this is going to be the AMAZINGNESS of my reading experience thanks to the rep, and not all those pesky complaints.


Bottom line: More YA books like this one, fewer fantasies about white girls having sex with faeries. (Am I just talking about SJM? You decide.)


pet peeve: editors americanizing currency / school systems / language / etc when international books are published in the US

anyway this was cute!

review to come / 3 or 3.5 stars

currently-reading updates

performing a citizens arrest on myself for taking so long to read this

tbr review

a YA contemporary about two girls with competing henna businesses who fall in love??!

i would have wanted to read this regardless. they didn't need to ruin my life with the cover too.

(thanks to the publisher for the ARC)
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.5k followers
June 12, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Adiba Jaigirdar.
Author 11 books2,929 followers
February 20, 2020
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!
Profile Image for ilsa➹.
124 reviews204 followers
May 29, 2023
this was...terrible.

i'm not kidding you when i say 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 felt incredibly 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. and i think it comes down to the fact that nishat's narrative voice came across as incredibly juvenile and it was hard to look past considering this is...YA?

there's just some... odd lines in here and it had me really questioning myself. like do people even think things like this?? surely not?? surely people aren't this cringe.

"Flavia," Ms. Kelly says in her stern I'm-not-taking-any-bullshit voice. It's the voice that makes everyone behave immediately, no matter what. Because Ms. Kelly is not one to put on that voice willy-nilly.

WILLY NILLY? lord help me.

Tired Fed Up GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

-"Instead, hushed whispers travel through the air, like we're all trying to keep our plans a secret from each other. Maybe we are. Maybe we should be."

...babe, nothing even wildly significant is happening and yet the narration is over the top dramatic for absolutely no reason?! i hate to say it, but it truly reminded of the Ally Carter books i read when i was 12.

and god forbid i offend anyone, but the desperate, and quite frankly, bad, attempts at this book to be politically aware, made this for even more of a difficult read.

"I was down to be the token POC"
reactions on Twitter:
...*cringes* *dies* Man, who the fuck has this as internal monologue?! And why did I have to sit there and read it.
-"I still have a thing for Taylor Swift, after all- even though I hate all of her white feminism nonsense."
*blinks* no words.
Confusion GIFs | Tenor

- "Well, regardless, she's said some stuff and now she's going around with henna on her hands. That's cultural appropriation."

i don't really want to go in-depth about this book's discussion about cultural appropriation because I'll probably be like, burned at the stake, but to put it simply, the conversation is extremely repetitive, surface-level and is not productive in any way. like you're not bringing any important discussions to the table if your book is just saying "CULTURAL APPROPRIATION IS BAD!!" over and over again. where's the nuance?? where's the depth? (spoiler: no where to be found)

-I can't stand the way she says my name: Neesh-hat, like I'm a niche hat.
*blinks again* WHAT? what is this book?
Reaction gif tagged with what?, confused, America's Next Top Model
-also, the number of times a character rolls their eyes in this book should be illegal.
-i'm not really one who feels strongly about pop-culture references (don't hate them or love them)and this book didn't have too many but sometimes,,
"Our relationship was shorter than Kim Kardashian's last marriage."
Confused GIFs | Tenor

and besides all that (gestures to above) this book was just sooooooo damn boring. like oh my god. i was struggling in the last 30% of this book. i deserve a medal for finishing this. i couldn't have cared less for any of the characters. and the romance was bullshit too!

*throws hands in the air*

i'm so bitter. i can't believe the audacity of this book to market itself to me as the hate-to-love trope??! suing for false advertising!! the two characters never actually hate each other. nishat is consistently crushing on flavia (tho there is slight resentment) and flavia doesn't seem to ever actually hate nishat...so. and even if i ignored the fact that i was misled about the trope here, the romance is so boring, and lacks any chemistry.

there were some good things though! (help) i liked some discussions between nishat and her parents. nishat's sister bond with priti was sweet. i thought some romance moments were cute (very few) and i always love to see desi culture in books and relating to some of it.

overall, though, this was not it.
Profile Image for Unknown Reviews.
45 reviews118 followers
March 9, 2021

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 Muslim girl, Nishat, who lives in Ireland along with her Bengali family. After coming out to her parents and receiving only a strained silence, Nishat must navigate her sexuality while falling for an old friend, Flávia. However, their budding romance is put on hold when both of them enter a competition with the idea to do henna – and both girls refuse to back down.

I’ll start by saying I loved Nishat. This probably doesn’t mean much, but it’s so rare for me to like the main character. Despite all the wrongdoings that were done to her, Nishat never gave up and was always steadfast in her decisions. To have a main character that felt real, believable and authentic without being annoying just made it easy to follow her journey. And also Nishat’s relationship with her sister was so sweet. Seriously! This book made me realise how much more I wanted to see strong sibling relationships in books rather than only children, or family reduced to minor mentions.

But the romantic relationship…not so much.

Flávia is an Irish-Brazilian girl who was sold as beautiful, charismatic, caring. But for most of the book, I didn’t like her. When Flávia takes on the idea of doing henna, Nishat immediately expresses her discomfort. And Flávia just…shoots her annoyances down. Without even listening to a full explanation about how Nishat felt her culture was being appropriated. To say this book is an enemies to lovers would be untrue – they’re kind of friends, then minor rivals (minor as in Flávia still talks to Nishat normally and wishes her luck and stuff) to, I think you can guess the outcome.

But Flávia always felt manipulative or unconcerned to me while playing the good guy. And when something terrible happens to Nishat (it’s one of the trigger warnings), Flávia tells Nishat this the following day;

“Look, I know you’re angry about what happened, but you’re too caught up in … whatever this is. Victimizing yourself. You don’t even realize what a brat you’re being.”

Whether this refers to what happened to Nishat, or how she feels about cultural appropriation, Flávia should have had so much more sensitivity. I mean, what happened to Nishat was incredibly traumatic. Nishat needed anyone’s support during this time and I was so surprised when Flávia said that. At the same time, she had so many heartwarming and cute moments, but then things like that just left a bitter taste in my mouth regarding her character. It didn’t feel liked she learned much and it disappointed me.

Another issue I had was the discussion on cultural appropriation. I was really looking forward to it, as it’s such a massive topic in the world at the moment, but it never felt like it was fully explored. Nishat would mention that cultural appropriation was bad, and then someone would throw her a question at her and it’d never be answered properly. There was just never enough depth regarding the subject. I really would’ve loved if Nishat had explained exactly how she felt to anyone in the book, but it never happened.

By far the best thing (besides the characters) was Nishat’s journey on being out as a lesbian. She’s proud of herself and there were so many nice moments in there regarding her sexuality. The steps made by particular people just…they made me feel so, so, so happy. I’d definitely recommend this book to any queer teen for the relatability alone.

I think Jaigirdar’s writing style was very pleasant to read and I flew through the book. All of her characters were amazingly believable and reading about Bengali culture was just excellent for someone who doesn’t know anything about it. And Jaigirdar did tackle racism predominantly throughout this book e.g Nishat’s friend Jess telling her she’s overreacting on cultural appropriation and the borrowing of cultures when it’s trendy. I’d rank it above the enemies-to-lovers, and the cultural appropriation discussion for sure.

Another slight thing; The competition as a whole fell to the background, and the “incident”, as I’ll term it, was kind of never resolved? Literally in any shape or form? I don’t mind the former as much, but the latter did leave me wondering why it wasn’t dealt with. Like seriously, the implications, source...just I’m sick of books brushing over this, it can be beyond traumatizing.

Overall, I really enjoyed the characters, the writing, the pace, the absolutely amazing non-romantic relationships, the diversity, the different cultures, and the gayness, of course.

If you’re looking for a quick, cute and easy read, I’d recommend it. However, If you’re looking for a deep dive into cultural appropriation and enemies-to lovers romance? I’d give it a miss. However, I think it was a strong debut and I’m looking for to more books by Jaigirdar in the future.
Profile Image for Ayman.
212 reviews84.9k followers
July 30, 2021
ughhh i love this book. it’s sapphic so it deserves all the love
Profile Image for Kevin (Irish Reader).
274 reviews3,933 followers
April 4, 2021
One of my new favourite YA contemporary books!

Going into this book, I expected myself to like it but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. This book follows our main character, Nishat, who has just came out as a lesbian to her Muslim family. Her family do not take the news well and Nishat has to deal with learning to love herself and being her authentic self. When her class has a project to start their own businesses, Nishat decides to embrace her culture and start a henna business. However, when Flávia, the new girl in school and Nishat’s crush, also launches her own henna business, Nishat’s crush dwindles and the competition truly begins.

This book had so many different important conversations in it, such as: Bullying, cultural appropriation, homophobia, and racism. These are such important topics to be discussed especially in a young adult novel and I absolutely loved that aspect of the book. The characters were so well written too and felt fully developed to me and even their dialogue was so accurate to a 16 year old. It really made them feel like such real characters for me. I also love how although this book can be seen as just a competition between rival businesses, it actually is more about Nishat’s journey to loving herself and being happy with everything that makes her who she is. It was such a beautiful growth story and the contrast between the start of the book and the ending was just amazing to read. Definitely brought some tears to my eyes and I just loved it so much. Would highly recommend, such a beautiful book. This book is also set in Ireland, so I absolutely loved understanding all of the locations and references.

I also read this during a reading vlog on my YouTube Channel. So if you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on the book, you can watch that video here: https://youtu.be/1mXk2M4wnQg
Profile Image for ☆Pelumi☆.
265 reviews324 followers
April 29, 2021

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.
What I want is for my parents to be outraged that someone betrayed me, not ashamed of my identity.

This book is incredibly cute and cheesy(so cheesy you can actually smell the cheese) and maybe a bit over the top but I love it that way, call me sentimental but I said what I said!
It follows Nishat, a little, naïve, sweet Bengali Muslim teenager living in Ireland. She's a great daughter, sister and her parents are proud of her(or so they thought).

However, that changes on a wedding day, Nishat who has been battling with coming out decides to do so. Not a very good decision as her parents are not in support of her. They avoid her like a plague and try to convince her to 'change' and become straight(which is supposed to be the perfect sexuality, ugh) by sending a certain distant relative.
You'll think she has enough to deal with right??
She meets an old friend Flavia who she is falls hard for, gets outed in school and gets herself entangled in a henna competition with Flavia and basically all the fucked up shit you can think will happen in a typical all girl's school happens.(OH boy)

She only has her supportive little sister to help her through.
Question is, who outed her?? will she win the war?? What happens with Flavia??

The whole henna war started because of a school business project and the fact that Nishat wanted to represent her culture by doing henna.
Flavia comes in and ruins it although not intentionally by doing henna also.

Now there's a whole war between them on who can do it best. The school project which is quite competitive takes on a dark turn when Flavia's cousin gets involved.
Who will win?????

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

The characters are incredible but some felt flat to me except Nishat of course.
I felt they were all made to fit certain stereotypes in the book which lowkey annoyed me but I love Nishat too much too look at that.
“She’s inching forward.
Is there a heterosexual explanation for why she’s inching forward?”

Isn't she adorable??

Priti was another character that stood out to me. She is Nishat's supportive sister and ohh to have her as my sister and sell the one currently sleeping on the couch to circus bears.
She has her flaws too but she helped Nishat through some real dark times.

Flavia was also awesome in her own way. She's Brazilian. (She's chill and I love her hair!!!!!!!!!!)
She doesn't seem so bad when you get to know her. I hated her at first because of the war with Nishant and how she didn't seen to notice that she was hurting Nishat by appropriating her culture.
I, for one know how much culture means to me and if it were to be I would have been mad too.

Chyna was kind of the villain of the book. Very disrespectful, arrogant and racist. She's Flavia's cousin but white. She spreads rumors about people and continued to target Nishat and her family throughout. I was a bit disappointed with the ending because I felt Chyna didn't get what she deserved.

Things I liked:
I loved the plot and the concept
It didn't take too long to pick up and it was very fun to read

I definitely loved the culture representation. (I love culture especially those of African and Asian origin).
The exposure to Bengali culture was awesome. The food, clothing, wedding ceremonies and pretty much everything else was very fun to read.

I loved the twist, although I saw it coming, it was still cool. The twist on who outed Nishat wasn't what I wanted it to be but it still works.

The COVER!!!!!

The diversity, I mean two black girls falling in love! It doesn't get any better.
The fact that it own voices just knocks it outta the park.

The bits about racism, I liked how the book covered racism and what Nishat went through in Ireland. Its not preachy but we get the message.
Even Flavia's life wasn't so easy, with her feeling inadequate and all because of her cousin Chyna.
All through, we can relate with them and sympathize with them. However, the ending left us with some closure.

Things I didn't like:
I just didn't like some of the over reactions and cheesy parts
The fights between Nishat and Flavia felt so childish at times that it became nerve racking
The romance felt like insta love to me but I'm willing to forgive

Over all, great book!! Its basically a definition of you can be Muslim and Queer, I mean, they're not mutually exclusive!
A light read that one can binge through while relaxing on the sofa with a cup of ice tea.
It was worth the read




(ITS OWN VOICES, i think?!)




Profile Image for Maëlys.
296 reviews276 followers
May 29, 2021
☆ 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 crush, I really loved how from the very first chapters the author really managed to lay down so much in such a short amount of time.

This book truly never sidesteps any uncomfortable feeling and dives straight into important issues with nuance and thoughtfulness.

Obviously going into this book I knew cultural appropriation was going to be a key point of the story, but it brings it forward in such a hard hitting way. The feeling truly takes Nishat aback in a moment where she wasn’t expecting it, with both someone she likes and someone who has ridiculed her culture for years.

The argument of it being art is such a nuanced one and I’m so happy to see it being explored in this story. The moment where Flávia asks her if it’s really that important to her if she’s only been doing it for very little time was really heartbreaking. Henna has always been a part of Nishat’s life in one form or another and this book highlights how these elements of one’s culture (also including food, there was so much talk of food that I loved) give this sense of sharing within a community and how it can make you feel connected to your culture and others. It means something because it is shared, because it brings forward a sense of belonging.

A part that really hit the nail on the head for me was when she said Flávia was making henna “adaptable for white people” and how people were fawning over her designs when they’d never been interested in Nishat wearing it before. I love that this book is opening the commentary on cultural appropriation in this way, showing how elements of a culture can be taken and only enjoyed by others only when taken out of its cultural context.

This book tackles facets of racism people don’t want to see or talk about. The fact that Nishat feels like the “token POC” is such a very real feeling when most of the people you go to school with are white, when not many people around look like you and if people are not outright putting you down for it they fetishise your entire existence.

I am truly in awe of how many faces and layers of racism this book explored very efficiently and tactfully. We have examples of how easily it is for people to turn on you and how even you friends won’t necessarily defend you, we see how people do not like when POC voice their pain and concerns, forever trying to silence us by telling us we are overreacting and when they get uncomfortable, we’re “playing the race card.”

This book also perfectly explores the subtleties of colourism, both with Chaewon’s and Flávia’s characters.

Chaewon gets to be a sort of middle ground with Jess, Nishat’s and Chaewon’s white friend, not really defending Nishat when she knows she’s in the right, truly showing how very often there is a lack of the so-called “Asian solidarity”. Lighter skinned Asians tend to cater to white people more, being seen as a model minority, distancing themselves from “loud” and “angry” brown Asians to be accepted.

When it comes to Flávia, despite how she is profiting from her culture, Nishat understands that it can be harder for her too. Anti-Blackness is something so ingrained in our society that while we’re shown a lack of Asian solidarity, the lack of support Black people receive from other POC is even more prevalent. I am so happy to see this highlighted here, even if very briefly. Flávia, being mixed, also has to deal with having a “white side” of her family. The expectations her mother has for her to do better than that side and “showing them up” does not stem only from pride but from the knowledge Flávia has to do better if she wants to receive even half of the acknowledgement and opportunities.

The author also highlights how the school administration is complicit in the mistreatment Nishat has suffered throughout her scholarity, showing the systemic aspect of the oppression of marginalised minorities.

While the homophobia Nishat experiences from her own parents is inexcusable and of course parents should always have unconditional love and be there for their children no matter what, it is truly a deeper problem than her parents being bad people. It is more than just an individual issue of homophobia but also stems from the overbearing pressure of the community.

Beyond the social commentary I really love this book for its characters. Everyone feels so real, everyone makes mistakes but is still trying to do their best. And the relationship Priti and Nishat have? “I’ll always choose you” I was tearing up and seeing their dynamic, how they’re there for each other (even if sometimes they’re a bit lacking, but then realise!! And are trying!!), I just love these two so very much.

This book doesn’t shy away from having flawed characters without them being automatically bad people. They do some good and they can harm others around them unintentionally. They can be too preoccupied with their own lives to fully realise what else is happening to the people around them. And isn’t that so true and realistic? I don’t like books where the author pretends their MC is flawless, or they don’t really get called out on their behaviour, so I really appreciate it here. Everyone feels so real and raw and they’re all dealing with their own things.

We can also see the growth of so many characters. I loved how all the real apologies went, how different people put in work to be better and show their support. I really liked how Chyna, the main bully character, was handled, showing how people can pick and choose to defend the people they love because they care about them while turning around and being vile to other people, showing how family is complicated and the people you love can be so different with others.

And then, the sapphic relationship between Nishat and Flávia. Nishat was being very trusting with Flávia at one point but how can I be mad at her when it provided me with such sweet moments between the two of them. Ah, to be an art sapphic caught in the rain with your crush. Thank you Adiba Jaigirdar. I think people will be thrown off by the “enemies to lovers” label as there is a rivalry between the two of them due to the business side of things but there was never any real dislike between the two of them. I think that’s what was really interesting in this book: Nishat felt deeply hurt by Flávia and how she treated henna but she was only ever trying to navigate the complex feelings that came with that and liking her romantically for a majority of the book. Apart from the obvious wrench in their path their dynamic and relationship was very sweet and I really loved the buildup they had and how everything developed throughout the book. Ultimately this is also a book about two queer girls of colour finding happiness and love together, about how precious the joy of that is.

This book truly means everything to me and seeing these two girls being unapologetically happy made my heart feel a lot. I was definitely teary-eyed when I finished it and it took me awhile to take it all in; all the feelings of being seen and understood, all the joy and happiness.


Buddy read with Melanie
Profile Image for tappkalina.
666 reviews414 followers
April 9, 2023
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. Even when she apologized, I was like 'that's not good enough.' And I know it's not my place to forgive or not forgive her, but Nishat's hurt was so deep inside me that I just couldn't.
It doesn’t seem like much. But sometimes just being yourself—really, truly yourself—can be the most difficult thing to be.
Profile Image for Fanna.
992 reviews533 followers
May 28, 2021
The Henna Wars is a slight tug at one's heartstrings with a sapphic romance budding through the fields of authentic cultural and religious representation along with an excellent portrayal of a young desi lesbian girl challenging the evident cultural appropriation around her.

↣ consider reading this review over on my blog.

Let's shine a deserving spotlight on the inspiring protagonist who is coming of age.

Nishat is a gem. It's never easy to create a young character who stays realistic with the societal doubts setting in but also depicts the inspirational traits of standing up for what's right, but Nishat is the perfect mix. She believes in her perspective and the love for her culture, for her sexual orientation, and for her religion. There is nothing that stops her from enlightening, educating, or explaining these perspectives—and others—to those around her that have wrong different opinions. And this makes for a protagonist who not only deserves support but also demands it.

The perfect South-Asian family portrayal—a sister who becomes a source of strength, conservative immigrant parents, and relatives invited to celebrate academic results.

Priti, Nishat's younger sister, is a ball of sunshine and the one who genuinely has our main character's back. She's the epitome of every sister we all wish we had or some might be lucky enough to already have: she teases her elder sister but also opens up her arms & heart for her Apujan to know the love she'll always get from this bond.

Nishat's parents have their walls up—like many Asian immigrants—when the idea of changing systems or accepting what they had unexpected is put forward. Their elder daughter comes out as a lesbian and their response is predictable but as hurtful as any reaction that involves cold shoulders and communication suspensions would be. The consequential anxiety that Nishat experiences is indicative of the mental impact a 'suffocating' South-Asian culture can have.

Not only was the immediate family portrayal on point but even the relatives and far-away acquaintances have their presence marked by realistic, common, and annoying dialogues or unsolicited advises they would deliver—whether in a Bengali wedding or in a get-together meant to celebrate academic results.

An applause for the cultural essence and important themes that flow through the modern narrative.

The Henna Wars commendably incorporates the intricate details of a desi culture in Nishat's narration and creates a story that clearly stands on the foundation inspired by a community the protagonist belongs to. From a recitation of the Bangladeshi delicacies lining a wedding food stall to mentioning jilapis and from the amazing smell of henna to the wholesomeness of daal, this book is a crown jewelled with cultural gems.

This contemporary also pulls important themes to the centre stage in a manner that can be marked as raw, honest, and brave. Whether it's the cultural appropriation of henna in order to flourish a business a project or bullying that stems from racist assumptions disguised as school jokes; whether it's the mispronunciation of desi names and the tinge of anger that follows or the disappointing attempt at blinding a queer's eyes to their sexuality by imposing culture or religion, The Henna Wars does it too well.

Sapphic romance that starts with an instant crush and grows through competing henna businesses disguised as a war.

Flavia is Brazilian-Irish and a new admission to Nishat's school, which makes our lovely protagonist smile wide but also warns herself to stay far away because this new admission is Chyna's—the bully—cousin. Though, this doesn't stop Flavia from letting those butterflies flutter, leaving subtle hints, and showing an interest in Nishat. Nor does our lovely Nishat stop stealing quick glances at the pretty girl, wonder what she's like, and blush at Instagram comments by her crush. Yes, super cute. Yes, super sweet. Yes, you get all the feels.

However, a business project based on henna designing soon becomes the reason for this potential relationship to reach the dead-end before it could even start. There's a rift between the two, an understandable one since Nishat is protective of her love for henna—simple flowery designs taught to her by her maternal grandmother: Nanu—and considers the opposite team's idea a result of cultural embezzlement. Yes, lots of tension. Yes, lots of sadness. Yes, you will be struck with emotions.

Throws a much-needed light on racism in a setting meant for diverse young students to be educated.

A large part of The Henna Wars is dedicated to executing important conversations around racism, microaggressions, and blatant ignorance towards a culture. But the most absurd notion it absolutely condemns is that of a privileged white eyeing diversity as a 'trend' they can either downright shame as a spur of the moment waiting to die down or use to build their mountains of profit on. As a reader of colour, I personally appreciate this book's narrative.

Note: I'm in no place to give detailed comments on the representation of sexual identities or the religion of characters in this book so please pay heed to the ownvoices reviews for these representations above mine. I'm only positive about my opinions regarding the culture depicted and racism challenged.

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 Eid, I decided to see if I could do it. Guess what? I did draw henna on hands for five days and got 50 Dirhams $14 (which isn't much, honestly). Well, I had almost forgotten about the happiness I got that week all those years ago and this book helped me reminisce. HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

April 15, 2020: This has made me grow fonder of my culture, crave the smell of henna, while tugging at my heartstrings with the cutest f/f romance between a Bengali & a Brazilian teenager in Ireland. full review to come!

April 11, 2020: Buddy reading with Lili !

April 10, 2020: The few times I do read an eARC earlier than its release, it has to be a POC book and what better than reading this queer love story between a Bangladeshi & a Brazilian set in the gorgeous Ireland. Super excited to be picking it up during the Easter Readathon for prompts: book about new beginnings & book involving family/friends.

March 6, 2020: The cover had already won my heart but now that I've just got the opportunity to read and review this, I'm falling in love with the title and the blurb too, UFF. Thank you, Page Street Publishing for the digital review copy via Netgalley!

November 12, 2019 cover reveal: every time i see POC on the book covers, i go head over heels with all the heart eyes.but this is just too cute with the wavy and curly hair, henna on the hands, nose ring, freckles.
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
903 reviews1,816 followers
September 8, 2021
Protagonist was such a brat and self-centered throughout the book. And that enemy to lovers mention in the synopsis is so misleading. Right from the start, it was apparent that our girl Nishat was so full of herself that she overlooked others' feelings and thought that it was everyone else who were mistreating her. She had good friends who genuinely cared about here but she was too absorbed in her pity party.

I was expecting a bit more here.
Profile Image for Chloe Gong.
Author 16 books21.2k followers
January 19, 2020
I read this in one sitting and wanted to hug the book to my chest. Such precious characters and beautiful representation of culture mixed with a storyline that is both hard-hitting and an excellent romcom.
Profile Image for zaheerah.
449 reviews114 followers
June 15, 2020
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.

This one’s a hard one to review because I’m struggling a little to put my thoughts into coherent words. It was a super adorable book to read. I truly wanted to love this. But The Henna War was not the book for me. I was not particularly blown away in my reading experience. My first thoughts when I finished this book was: is that it?

Nishat is our main protagonist, and I wish I could’ve loved her more. Nishat is one of a kind. I really loved her unapologetic attitude and how she is very adamant in being herself, loving herself, regardless of what anyone else says. She is very proud of her culture (hey, fellow Bengali) and in her situation, she is remarkably strong, standing up for herself when no one else will. Her younger sister is adorable, and I really enjoyed the great sibling bond between them. Nishat also has her school friends, who she ends up splitting with mid-novel due to clash of interest over their business ideas. Her parents are traditional, and it was heart-breaking to see them become so distant to their own child over their sexuality. With her conflict with the parents simmering in the background, it doesn’t help that Nishat also gets a crush on Flávia. That crush is almost squashed when Flávia decides to a henna business, and Nishat is devastated at her blatant disregard for her culture. And then on top of that, Flávia’s cousin is Chyna, one of the school’s biggest bullies who has been continuously dropping racist rumours about Nishat for years.

This book introduces a lot of things: Nishat’s decision to come out to her parents, meeting Flávia, discovering Flávia is also new to her school, Flavia using henna as a business idea. Flávia is also dealing with a lot of tension from her cousin’s family. On top of that, all is the central theme of cultural appropriation, which made this a book a great space to discuss such a topic. But I feel like it was all too much and nothing was given the space actually to be discussed. To call it rivals to lovers is a reach, Nishat’s friends were practically sidelined and then reintroduced at the end for the pivotal moment. Nishat has a terrible attitude where she expects everyone else to feel bad for her, but she refuses to extend the same opportunity to everyone else. There was a perfect moment where her sister calls her out on her petty behaviour, but I feel like it was all for nought as everything is brushed away in favour of a happy ever after ending. Nishat’s anger and disappointment in most moments were justified, but she never really seems to learn from any of the bad stuff she does.

Overall, this review sounds weird because I was genuinely enjoying this book for the most part, and I will offer this book to another reader because I can see it’s value. It’s super adorable for the most parts with an exciting cast of characters. The writing style was not to my liking. I just couldn’t get to grip with it, and it definitely affected my enjoyment of the books. As I said, I believe in this story, and I’ll give Adiba Jaigirdar credit for writing a story that I haven’t read anywhere else. But it wasn’t the book for me.
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
721 reviews255 followers
September 14, 2020
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 given an assignment where they’ll have to start a business--the most successful of which will receive one thousand euros. Nishat decides to start a henna business, as it is a big part of her Bengali culture. The only problem is that a Flavia, a biracial Brazilian girl--one Nishat may or may not have a crush on--has also decided to open a henna booth.


The Henna Wars was a really easy book to get into considering the weight it holds. Jaigirdar’s writing style is simplistic enough that I had no trouble jumping into Nishat’s narrative and the references of Bengali culture.

Nishat was a great protagonist. Her journey was enticing and true, paving an easy path into the readers heart. I really liked following her through school and home life amidst the challenges making themselves present.

While several discussions of sexuality and cultural appropriation were presented, I wish they were looked at in more depth. Nishat is unsettled by Flavia using henna the first few instances that it happens. After a while a romance ensues between them -and save for a vague apology- the cultural appropriation upsetting Nishat is not discussed between them. For this reason I wasn’t fully on board with the romance, though the characters are all young and written realistically.

For the most part, The Henna Wars was a solid contemporary with tons of diverse representation that I think many will enjoy
Profile Image for rey.
241 reviews116 followers
May 26, 2020
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 lot of important points (specifically about cultural appropriation, racism, and homophobia), but besides that, i think it fell a little flat as a story. i didn’t really come out of it feeling much. also, i’m still not sure how i feel about the love interest, which isn’t a good sign. and i also felt like certain people were too quick to be forgiven (if you read this, you know who i’m talking about).

so, yeah? mixed feelings. it definitely flew by, which is a plus, but i wasn’t really satisfied by the ending. it wasn’t a bad ending but,, idk. also, there is a certain trope in here that i really don’t like in stories, and i won’t mention it because it’s a spoiler, but yeah.
Profile Image for Zitong Ren.
504 reviews158 followers
December 15, 2020
Read with the Between the Pages bookclub for our December book of the month.

This was really, really nice and I adored this book so much. It’s always good to be reading some YA, especially YA contemporary as I do tend to spend a lot of time reading fantasy, and more often than not adult fantasy, which can often be dense, slow and complex. This was just a really easy read and I flew right through it and that was great. The writing was sort of simple(which can be good or bad depending on your taste), which made it easy to read and I suppose it just doesn’t require that much thought and I can be entirely engaged in this book.

I largely really liked the characters in this book, particularly our main character Nishat as well as her younger sister Priti. Priti really was everything and really shined as someone who is just kind and supportive and we need more of those characters. I found Nishat to be well written with lots of depth and as the book is told from her perspective, we get to know her pretty well. That being said, I would have liked more depth from our side characters, like Jess, Chaewon or Chyna as they sort of just felt there to move the plot along and not to say that they were badly written, but rather that I wanted a bit more.

This book does tackle some serious issues like homophobia, cultural appropriation and getting outed. Personally, I’m really glad that these stories are being told, and that they should continue to be told. Yes, the plot was not this strongest suit by far as lots of these plot devices have been used in similar fashions before. However, we are seeing the story here from a Bengali girl and her experiences while going through these things and that’s incredibly insightful. Yes, it’s fiction, but I, and I’m sure many out there hope that people can feel their voices are heard with this book and that they can relate certain experiences to this novel. So maybe the way the book dealt with some topics or used plot devices that aren’t deemed ‘original,’ it is so vital that these stories are told from all cultures, and then told again, and again, so that people feel represented.

Like, I’m Chinese-Australian and there were aspects of the novel that I could relate to, such as say people being racist even if they weren’t aware of it or perhaps having a family that may have conservative views on certain things.

I enjoyed reading about certain elements of Bengali culture as I don’t actually believe I’ve read a book by an author originally from Bangladesh, which is sort of wild, but it’s true - and it shows that so many more stories from cultures around the world need to be told, and then once they are told, people need to give those stories a voice and a platform so that the people that need those stories can experience them.

Overall, I liked the romance, but at times, it did feel sort of weak as well. Part of that is probably the way the book is marketed as this competition between rivals, because well, there really wasn’t a whole lot of competing and there wasn’t much rivalry. Some things also felt smoothed over a bit too quickly, like the cultural appropriation. Look, I’m always glad for sapphic and wlw romances and there were some moments that were cute and angsty and I really enjoyed that, but some things were just a bit odd? I suppose?

Anyway, I did end up really enjoying it - and although it wasn’t perfect, I certainly will be recommending this, and it is just a good story that tackles important issues that still need to be addressed. 8/10
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,129 reviews13.8k followers
April 10, 2021
This was so fun! Nishat is such an interesting and complex character that I definitely wasn't a fan of the whole time. Sometimes she didn't make the best of decision, but she realistically acted like a teenager, which I appreciated. She did go through a lot with mean girls at school, specifically with an old friend, and that definitely made me mad on her behalf. The competition was a lot of fun and I liked how she became passionate and invested in her henna business. I wasn't sure about the romance when it started because Nishat and Flavia hadn't really even talked when Nishat decided she really liked her, but I did enjoy how that romance progressed and ended. I adored Nishat's friendship with her sister and the complexity and growth of her relationship with her parents after she told them that she was a lesbian. There was just so much explored in this book and I enjoyed it the entire time! I'm so happy I was finally able to read this book and I cannot wait for this author's next release!
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,405 followers
February 9, 2023
"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."

"What I want is for my parents to be outraged that someone betrayed me, not ashamed of my identity."

"I guess you never really get used to your parents treating you like you're worth nothing."

"Lately it feels like that's all I am to everyone - a secret they have to hide away."

Homophobia throughout the story I feel. And that too from family and relatives. Seriously. It made me so angry.

I really dislike Nishat's parents. They do not even try! That's infuriating. Arghhhh!

I love how precious is the sisters bond here. Without Priti, Nishat would really have had a bad time. One of those in which the little sister is more mature and life smart.

So many unlikeable characters. Wish there were some good adult characters around. Adult characters without a proper role other than being strict and ashamed made the story less and less appealing or realistic. Not every adult in our lives are the same and alike.

And please stay away from toxic friends like Chyna. Quite a bully too.

My most favourite character would be Priti. Her character stands out. She's the only character I would remember from this story. The two main characters, Flãvia and Nishat, do not have much personalities of their own.

I don't know even when the writing is really good I really didn't like the romance or the relationship between the characters. It seems forced and unhealthy at times. And I do feel the plot had so many aspects but weren't handled well at all, many of them just ended without being done much about them.

There's just too much doubts, manipulative characters, negativity that it felt like I was looking for the story to change into something beautiful and hopeful.

The only thing I was looking forward to, the theme on gender/identity/sexuality/coming out, wasn't handled well I feel. The story started so many things but none of them have a proper closure.

I was rather disappointed with the second half. Nothing much was happening. It ended everything so bland that I felt the writing was wasted on a story that didn't deserve it.

I wish all those French dialogues were translated into English right then and there.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,107 reviews6,570 followers
September 9, 2020
“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 warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers]


This was super cute! and definitely more of an enemies to lovers than i was expecting! i didn't absolutely love it though and i'm not quite sure why. maybe because it almost read like a middle grade and that's not what i thought it would be? not sure... but i still highly recommend it!

trigger warnings: coming out to parents, homophobic and unsupportive parents and family members, racism, cultural appropriation, being publicly outed, homophobia, bullying.
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