ARC Review: The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

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…

Overall!!

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:

Have you read The Henna Wars yet? Are you excited to get yourself a copy?? What are other contemporary books with heavy themes and messages you enjoyed?

41 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar”

  1. i’m happy to hear that you (mostly) enjoyed this book! the family/sister relationship was definitely one of my favorite parts of the book 🥺 i agree about the writing style though, hopefully it’ll be better in the author’s next book! and thank you so much for linking to my review ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review!! I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book and I DEFINITELY want to read it!! I really appreciated your honest comments/critics.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely agree with you Ahaana! Priti and Nishat had an incredible relationship, one of the biggest highlights for me in the book. I tend to be quite picky with YA contemporaries hehe but The Henna Wars was such a welcome surprise. Ooh complex magic systems? Could you give me a few recommendations? Many thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m reading this right now for the Sapphics Book Club! (search @dykereads on IG if you would like to join, we have a discord and everything!) I’m loving it so far, and the narrator of the audiobook is great. I get why you could have mixed feelings though. Great review, and I love your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much!! i hope you enjoy it!! ARC stands for advanced readers copy, which is basically when an author, or publisher sends a blogger/booktuber/bokstagrammer a book before its release date for free, in exchange for an unbiased review!! if you search up ‘how to get ARCs’ on google, i’m sure you’ll find a ton of helpful results!! i hope that helped! x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I completely agree about what you said about Nishat’s parents and I haven’t seen in mentioned much either. They definitely had a rocky start but I love seeing how the relationship progressed, like the little things they did in the end was so sweet. The family was my favourite aspect of the book. I agree it wasn’t perfect in every way but I still really enjoyed. I LOVED reading your thoughts so much, thank you for sharing !! 💕💕

    Liked by 2 people

  6. yes!! i feel like although a ton of other’s reviews focused on the relationship between the sisterly bond between priti and nishat, the relationships amongst nishat and her parents were also wonderful to see – and i just loved the way they progressed as well!! the family relationships were also definitely my favourite part of this book!! thank you so much for commenting 🥺❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This book is definitely in my TBR pile. Loved reading your review! I think I’m looking forward to it more now, especially because of your description of the family relationships! Great review, Ahaana! 💕

    Liked by 2 people

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