Before I start, I would like to thank NetGalley and the Hachette book group for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can buy the book on Amazon here, and add it to your Goodreads here!
I also want to say that reviewing this book was so hard, because I had so many mixed feelings about everything that was going on. I struggled deciding on what to finally rate this book because there were so many aspects I loved, but there were also some that were lackluster.
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.
Title: The Henna Wars
Author: Adiba Jaigirdar
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: YA, LGBTQIA+, OwnVoices, Contemporary
Representation: Bengali-Muslim main character, Bengali-Muslim side characters, Lesbian main character, Sapphic romance, Afro-Brazilian Love interest, Bisexual love interest, Korean side character & other Queer rep.
Trigger Warnings: Bullying, a character being publicly outed, Homophobia, Racism, Cultural appropriation
Final Rating: 3.5 stars
What I liked
The family + sibling relationships. AHH!! I LOVED THESE!! The relationship between Priti and Nishat was heartwarming. I feel a lot of others reviews cover how much they adored the sisterly love in this book, because it was TO DIE FOR!! However, one aspect I feel, is not mentioned as much, is the relationship between Nishat, Priti, and their parents. I loved the relationship Nishat had with her parents almost as much as the one she had with Priti… Although her parents were disapproving of her sexuality, and her being Lesbian in the beginning of the book, we see how they start making an effort and stepping out of their comfort zone for their daughter. They start watching Ellen DeGeneres, and researching about Lesbians in Pop culture to feel closer to their daughter, but just the way they react is beautiful.
The inspirational & moving messages. I love how the author combined so many important themes into this story. I also love how even after adding so many heavy themes, and topics, the story stayed a light fluffy read. A lot of contemporary novels cover these topics, and just don’t do justice to them. If you’re looking for a book that tackles issues like racism, homophobia, and so much more without getting too heavy, this is the book for you.
How each of the characters evolved, and grew from when they were first introduced. I loved how in ‘The Henna Wars’ you could clearly see the growth in every character mentioned. Not just the main character, but also minor characters, which helped create a sense of depth to all of them, and really bring them to life. It was also really interesting to see how all of them grew, and changed from their past selves introduced in the first few chapters.
What wasn’t my cup of tea
The writing style. I don’t think it’s just me, because I know a lot of readers felt the same way, but at times the writing style felt a bit childish and bland. I felt that the author chose themes that could have definitely been conveyed using more emotion, and she could have expressed her voice in a more powerful way.
The pacing. Like Ash said in her review, this book was really slow at points. It could definitely have a faster pace, and cut down on the excessive elaboration. It was droning, and kind of boring at times. According to me, this book definitely could have been faster at some points…
I’ve given ‘The Henna Wars’ a rating of 3.5 stars (as you can see above). Please don’t let that deter you from checking out this book, because it’s a beautiful, fluffy, OwnVoices, contemporary read (we need more books like these)!! Apart from the reasons stated above, I would give this book 3.5 stars, because I just couldn’t find myself relating with the story. Yes, it was just the break I needed from complex magic systems, but it wasn’t my type… A lot of bloggers I know have made this a favourite of 2020, though, so it’s always best to look at a range of opinions!!
Others reviews I enjoyed reading:
- Ash @ Starlight Strands expresses her love for ‘The Henna Wars’ in a mini review!
- Cotton Candy Book Witch also wrote a wonderful review on this book!
- Jess @ Comfort Reads wrote an amazing review on ‘The Henna Wars’
- May @ Forever and Everly convinces you to pick up one of her favourite titles of the year!