Hi!! I went camping with my family and some friends for a few days over the weekend, which was really fun. It was pretty foggy, and a little rainy for a lot of it, but I still had a really good time. It’s nice to be back home though, and I have a post that I’m very excited for today!
When I first read The Henna Wars, over a year ago, it immediately became one of my favorite books! The Henna Wars has amazing LGBTQ+ representation, and because it’s pride month, I thought I’d write a post on why I think you should read The Henna Wars, by Adiba Jaigirdar.
The Henna Wars
Author: Adiba Jaigirdar
Release Date: May 12th, 2020
Publisher: Page street kids
Genre: Young adult contemporary
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.
1. The amazing diversity
The diversity and representation in The Henna Wars is amazing! The protagonist of The Henna Wars, Nishat, is a Muslim Bangladeshi-Irish lesbian, and all of those parts of her identity are talked about. Flavia, another main character is Brazilian-Irish and bisexual.
It really meant a lot for me to read a book with a Queer main character, and more specifically a bisexual main character, and The Henna Wars was one of the first books I read with LGBTQ+ main characters.
2. The writing
I really love the way that The Henna Wars is told. Adiba Jaigirdar does an amazing job having a perfect balance of the seriousness of the book combined with the high school setting. Her writing really pulls you into the book, and doesn’t let you go.
The entire time I was reading The Henna Wars I was fully invested in the story, and had to keep reading. I just think that Adiba Jaigirdar really did a fantastic job with figuring out how to write realistic and raw characters, while making them also feel very much like teenagers. A lot of the time, teenage characters feel like they have been written as adults, but not here.
3. Sisters & family
Nishat, the protagonist, has a younger sister named Priti, who also goes to her high school, and they are very close. There relationship is not perfect, and definintely has its ups and downs, but that is what makes it realistic. What I love about their relationship is how they really are always there for each other.
Nishat also has a very complex relationship with her parents. When she comes out to them as a lesbian, they tell her that she can’t be gay, and that it’s wrong. Nishat is of course very hurt, and struggles with the fact that her parents won’t accept her for who she is. Without spoiling the book, I think that her relationship with her parents is written very beautifully, and definitely is very emotional.
4. Exploration and discovery of identity
Nishat, the main character, knows that she’s a lesbian. What she is unsure of throughout the book is how that part of her identity fits in with her religion and culture. Can she be both Muslim and lesbian? Her parents say that she cannot, but she knows that she must be true to herself, and with all of the parts of herself, and her identity.
There is also a lot of really beautiful discussion about what it means to be an LGBTQ+ teen, grappling with the struggles of accepting yourself, and also figuring out how to handle family that isn’t entirely supportive.
5. Queer girls with a happy ending
It is difficult to finds books about two girls who get a happy ending. Before I started my blog and really made more of an effort to read diversly, and before I realized that there were so many amazingly diverse books out there, I can only think of three books with sapphic characters. None of them have particularly happy endings. Considering the number of books I read when I was younger, it’s really awful that I was never able to find a book with two girls with a happy ending.
This isn’t a spoiler for the book, just another way to get you to want to read the book. The Henna Wars isn’t always completely lighthearted, but it does have a happy ending. The author, Adiba Jaigirdar even spoke in an interview about how she really wanted to write the book to give the characters a happy ending, something she never saw in young adult literature as a kid and teen.
Thanks to Adiba Jaigirdar, I have a book that I can recommend when someone wants a cute contemporary book, and I don’t have to warn them about some sort of tragic finale.
I loved writing this post, and I hope that it has convinced you to pick up The Henna Wars if you haven’t already!