Book Review: The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

What’s the story? (From Goodreads):

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.


This book was hyped up to an extreme level, and for the most part it did live up to the hype.

The storytelling was solid. I knew that there would be plenty of teen angst and betrayal. There had to be with a story about competition. My favorite part of the book was not the romance however, it was the relationship between Nishat and her sister. There was something so pure and special about it and although Flavia was a good character, there were times when I just didn’t care. I wanted to see more of the dynamic between the two sisters.

Did I think that Nishat and Flavia were in love? No, I definitely felt like there was an infatuation but not love. The dates were sweet and I’m so glad that we got to explore Nishat and her character. She had a lot to overcome when she came out to her family. The culture played a huge part in not only the racial conflicts between the two girls, but with sexuality. There were so many layers to discover and I appreciated that about this book.

I think for young people to be exposed to a book like this would be a good start of many conversations. This book could not have come at a better time. The world is a very complicated place and this book allows us all to have good discussions.

I think if you are looking for a romance, this one was just luke warm. However, if you are looking for a book that digs deeper into other things to start a conversation, this book does that beautifully.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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