Cover Image: The Henna Wars

The Henna Wars

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Demorei pra organizar as ideias sobre esse livro porque ele realmente tem coisas muito boas e coisas que eu fiquei pensando o quanto me incomodava ter ou não ter mais na história. Acho que o melhor jeito de falar sobre ele é uma listinha mesmo, então aqui vai:

1) Cultura bengali: eu nunca tinha lido um livro com protagonistas de Bangladesh, ainda mais um #OwnVoices. Já aviso que não é a mesma coisa de ler outros livros com outros povos asiáticos marrons, nem outros livros com personagens muçulmanos. Sabe por que? Pessoas racializadas não são todas iguais ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Eu gostei muito que a cultura, crenças e culinária bengali foi explorada aqui e em alguns momentos era a coisa mais importante na situação (como todo o conflito do negócio de henna) e em outros era apenas um detalhe (como o fato de ter amigues que não comem carne é difícil pra alguém de Bangladesh porque muitas comidas tem carne).

2) Personagens LGBTQIA+ muçulmanos: isso é algo muito complexo e que tenho lugar nenhum para escrever sobre ou julgar. Tendo lido uma boa quantidade de livros com protagonistas muçulmanos, sejam praticantes da religião ou que o Islã é parte da sua cultura além da religião, é muito raro ainda ver personagens LGBTQIA+ nesse contexto por uma série de motivos. Foi muito interessante a história da Nishat aqui (que se identifica como lésbica) porque ela está num contexto de morar com a família e ensino médio, e assumir publicamente parte da sua identidade nesse contexto é muito diferente de fazer isso quando adulto.

Mostrar não só ela, mas os pais lidando com isso foi muito interessante de ler. Dá raiva, dá nervoso, mas ao longo do livro a gente vai vendo como é um processo. Nem pra todo mundo esse processo traz tranquilidade e um ambiente seguro depois, mas é sempre bom ver que a alternativa positiva existe.

3) Relacionamento entre irmãs: aqui eu incluo duas coisas que foram muito boas que é a dinâmica familiar e as interações entre as personagens eram muito reais. Todas as situações de "me empresta aqui teu celular, faz isso aqui pra mim, fica quieta pra eu fazer isso, não enche o saco porque tô te fazendo um favor" são muito realistas.

4) O romance: não funcionou pra mim. Apesar de conseguir ver como a autora foi seguindo para construir o romance e fazendo conexões das personagens terem algo em comum, eu não acreditei nele pelas interações que elas tivera e talvez seja algo completamente meu. Eu gosto que ele aconteceu porque precisamos de histórias em que jovens LGBTQIA+ muçulmanos tenham romance e felicidade do jeito que quiserem.

A sensação que eu tive é que os problemas construídos pro romance não foram realmente resolvidos e a Nishat passou por um monte de situações terríveis de homofobia, racismo e xenofobia, e fica por isso mesmo. A reação da Flávia pra mim foi menos do que eu esperava e acho que isso, mais o próximo ponto me incomodou mais.

5) Apropriação cultural: pra mim esse é o tema central do livro. Esse é o "grande desafio" dentro do romance que acontece aqui entre Nishat e Flávia; todo o discurso de "mas é arte e arte é pública", "você está exagerando", "mas é uma homenagem, você deveria achar bom", "você está vendo coisa onde nem existe" é exatamente o que ouvimos sempre.

É assim que funciona o sistema colonizador: quando tem algo que gostam, como a arte ou uma comida, tudo bem! Viva diversidade, olha como somos globalizados! Mas quando a existência de povos racializados e originários fica desconfortável, quando nós fazemos a própria arte, falamos alto demais e reivindicamos o que é nosso, aí foi longe demais. Deveríamos nos civilizar mais e "se misturar melhor".

O curioso na história aqui é que é uma pessoa racializada se apropria: Flávia é birracial e se identifica como uma mulher negra e, apesar da prima branca terrível e bullying que tem, ela é quem começa com todo o processo de apropriação cultural e joga algumas dessas frases incríveis de que "arte não tem dono" quando falam sobre o trabalho com henna. Ela simplesmente não entende o que é apropriação cultural e a Nishat é um ANJO de ainda tentar explicar e ela fica tentando explicar para TODO MUNDO O LIVRO INTEIRO. Quando eu penso na quantidade de estresse e energia que a Nishat teve ao longo do livro para lidar não só com as situações de violência que passa na escola e em casa sobre sua identidade como lésbica e uma mulher bengali, filha de imigrantes, asiática...

Eu acho que a história focou depois na prima bullying e como é terrível o jeito que ela tratava as pessoas e na "violência mais aparente" quando tinha uma discussão bem maior pra acontecer. Apesar disso, ainda acho que o livro conseguiu ser didático e natural para explicar apropriação para quem não entende e que isso pode acontecer em qualquer situação, não apenas partindo de brancos com povos racializados ou originários.

É um livro muito mais pesado do que parece. É uma bomba de sentimentos disfarçado em um YA contemporâneo que tem uma competição de negócios na escola, vários elementos de cultura brasileira e romance. Pra mim, é um livro que precisa ser lido e digerido aos poucos porque tem muita discussão aqui que passa batida por muita gente. Eu gostei bastante da escrita da autora e com certeza vou ficar de olho nos próximos trabalhos que ela lançar. 
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book and had been quite excited to read about it. A teen rivalry romance, discussions about race and cultural appropriation, as well as a burgeoning self-discovery and coming out - a great mix for a book. The writing was great, the dialogues engaging, and the overall messages really beautiful. We need more books like this, especially ones that show and emphasize the differences between culture and religion, especially relating to being gay, as the author has discussed.
Was this review helpful?
The Henna Wars manages to be such a sweet YA romance, while still being chock full of understandable conflict.

Nishat knows she’s gay and that she can’t be happy hiding it much longer, but is worried that coming out will mean losing her family. When Flavia (re)shows up in her life, Nishat falls for her immediately. But not only is Nishat not ready to be open about who she really is, she learns that Flavia is the cousin of Nishat’s racist bully. And to make matters worse, the school’s business competition sees the two pitted against each other as rival henna artists.

Abida Jaigirdar does a fantastic job of talking about serious issues like cultural appropriation and familial expectations, while balancing these topics with humor and sweetness.
Was this review helpful?
My copy was problematic, in that it skipped pages and each time I took a break, it'd jump to a random old page, requiring me to try and find where I left off. For this, I did not finish.
What I did manage to read was interesting, fresh, and well-written, so I am giving it 4 stars (from what I read) and will likely buy the audiobook to listen to. Still interested in the story.
Was this review helpful?
Full review: https://sumaiyaahmed.com/2020/01/11/the-henna-wars/

I really enjoyed reading this book! Loved the representation, the cultural inclusion, the slow romance! It was fun to read and I can’t wait to purchase more of the authors work
Was this review helpful?
This was a fun read that tackled some heavier topics, including bullying, homophobia, cultural appropriation, and racism. For fans of Never Have I Ever on Netflix, Frankly in Love by David Yoon, or You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson.
Was this review helpful?
Unfortunately, it was not possible to download this book in time. The 5* star rating was chosen in order to not hurt the book sales or ranking, even though it was not possible to read it.
Was this review helpful?
My own lack of understanding about the Irish school system made for a strange reading experience. I kept trying to figure out how old the characters were. 16? 18? I kept thinking that a "transition year" must be like an optional senior year, but the characters read younger. Now that I've googled it and I actually understand that Nishat would be a 10th grader in the United States, and this book makes so much more sense to me.

Sometimes I struggle to fall into the tone and pace of books originally published outside the U.S., and The Henna Wars wasn't an exception. I kept thinking maybe I should picked up the audiobook, thinking it might be easier to sink into the cultural differences if the narrator had an Irish accent, perhaps even a Bengali-Irish accent. I've enjoyed other international books that way. But the PRH audiobook reader has an American accent, so I didn't bother with it.

Things I loved:
- Jaigirdar's presentation of Bengali food, family, henna, language, and discussions about cultural expectations really dance on the page. After the wedding at the beginning of the book I was craving every food item listed.
- Hell yes to two queer girls of color falling for each other.
- Nishat and Priti's relationship is really sweet and their conversations are fun to read.
- Queer longing is done so well, almost bittersweetly. Very reminiscent of The Half of It for me.
- Cultural appropriation, racism, and homophobia are handled so thoughtfully and meaningfully in the book. I haven't seen cultural appropriation handled so well in fiction for teens - who does cultural art belong to? When is it ok to borrow? How is a piece of someone's culture connected to them?

Things I didn't love:
- This book was FAST. The plot was very efficient, but I kept wishing for a bit more time with the characters. I think I would have liked just a little more "fun and games" in the middle.
- You can spot plot "twists" a mile away. (view spoiler)
- I didn't think Nishat and Flávia had much chemistry. There didn't seem to be a reason they were attracted to each other beyond "this is the first gay girl I've ever met and she's pretty."
- The whole thing felt a little... bland. Maybe it was the writing style? I couldn't put my finger on anything in particular. It was just a bit lackluster for me.

Overall a good library buy for QPOC rep and a great discussion about cultural appropriation. Fast and a good fit for younger teens.
Was this review helpful?
Jaigirdar's debut beautifully tackles romance, racism, and cultural appropriation and captures the nuances and complexity of intersectional identity. The chemistry between Nishat and Flavia is palpable and their romance sweet and complex in ways that are heartbreakingly authentic in terms of both self-reflection and self-awareness and implications of their romance on their personal lives and what is at stake for them both. I look forward to hearing more from Jaigirdar in the future, but already this debut is beyond stunning.
Was this review helpful?
Included in May New Releases Part 1, which highlights exciting upcoming releases (link attached).

I wouldn’t call this book particularly romantic as most of the content is heart-wrenching, but it did end happily and I cried my eyes out.
Was this review helpful?
Before attending her cousin's wedding, Nishat feels she can no longer keep from her family that she is a lesbian. Her parents don't freak out, but they're not thrilled either-- according to them, Muslim girls aren't "like that". Nishat runs into childhood friend Flávia at the wedding, and her heart soars immediately... but that flight doesn't last long when Flávia is at her high school, AND copying her idea of running a henna business for a school project. The Henna Wars is friends-to-rivals-to-lovers and I absolutely loved it. Jaigirdar also depicts what is now somewhat common when coming out in the modern age-- not all acceptance, not all harassment, but a gray area that exists in the world that isn't often explored accurately in LGBT media.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book so much!! It was so cute yet touched upon serious topics such as homophobia and cultural appropriation. I saw a lot of myself in Nishat as well and it brought me so much comfort.
Was this review helpful?
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club and Page Street Kids for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.

Shout out to Jaigirdar for including the content warnings in the beginning of the novel, which are: instances of racism, homophobia, bullying, and a character being outed.

I never read Simon but I read When Dimple Met Rishi and I absolutely adored that novel. So when I saw that it was in the realm of one of my favorite books, I knew I had to read it. I think I liked this book even more because this one really made me cry.

I totally felt for Nishat when she was basically told that she couldn’t be her true self after coming out to her parents. And seeing what made her want to come out to her parents in the first place – the love between the recently married couple at the wedding that she was at with her parents basically – made me believe in love again. And yet we have to see Nishat get shut down and it just broke my heart because she was finally trying to be true to herself and to her parents, wanting to let them in to her life by letting them know about this part of her that she hadn’t told them before, hadn’t wanted to tell them before out of fear that they would react exactly the way that they reacted. My poor Nishat.

We have the sibling relationship between Nishat and Priti, which I adored so much because I love sister relationships being explored in novels like this. Then we have the romance that develops between Nishat and Flávia, and that was just adorable and I loved it so much. I don’t have a sister, but when I think about how I would want my relationship to be with a sister, I see the relationship between Nishat and Priti to be pretty similar. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be happy all the time, but just having that person there that you learn from and someone to tell you that hey, you need to step up your sister game just really makes me tear up a bit.

I feel like this review is pretty short and I can’t comment much on a lot of the rep because I don’t have enough knowledge on it to say whether it’s accurate or not, but from the other reviews that I’ve seen, I would say that it is. With Jaigirdar being Bangladesh/Irish herself, and living in Ireland, I would say that this is an #OwnVoices novel and was done so well. If any #OwnVoices reviewers want to comment on this for the rep, please feel free!
Was this review helpful?
Written by a Bangladeshi author, The Henna Wars offers insights into the culture of Bangladeshis, the importance of cultural appreciation over cultural appropriation, and how views on sexuality differ between different cultures. With Nishat's henna business, she finds new love, new appreciation for her culture, and deepens her relationship with her family.
Was this review helpful?
This book filled my heart up with joy, broke it, then filled it back up again. And if that isn't a recommendation, I don't know what is. 

Nishat and Flávia rekindle a childhood friendship amidst a school business competition that has them going head to head with rival henna stands. But Nishat can't believe that the girl she thought she knew would appropriate her Bengali culture--especially when there are already so few non-white, non-Irish students at the school who might actually understand just what that means. Even worse, Flávia's cousin, Chyna, is the school's resident bully, spreading racist rumors about Nishat and her family. Now she has to deal not only with her parent's cold reactions to her coming out, but a crush she can't seem to shake on her rival and a swath of new rumors that threaten to topple her chances in the competition. Good thing she has her sister standing by her side. 

This book is incredibly adorable, affirming, and just an all-around great read. I've been looking forward to reading it ever since I found out Adiba (a fellow writer for Book Riot) was writing it. A truly, truly lovely YA book!
Was this review helpful?
Honestly felt underwhelmed by this one. I don't know what I needed but I just don't have an opinion about it. I didn't hate it and I didn't love it. I can find points that I really enjoyed but as an overall book I've already forgotten character names and major points.
Was this review helpful?
This was such a soft, lovely read. I did the audiobook, and the narrator really sold the characters for me. It was a little slow in places, but I was so attached to the main character that I didn’t mind. I thought the themes were well explored, and they’re important topics to have in YA. This felt really grounded, like it could be happening in the world at this exact moment. I hope this book makes so many teens feel seen. 4.5/5 stars!
Was this review helpful?
I'm kind of shocked to discover this is 400 pages, because I sped through it so fast and it just carries its weight incredibly well. This was so incredibly fun to read. I loved how it engaged with topics like homophobia, cultural appropriation, and microaggressions (especially amongst teenagers!). I also liked how it engaged with coming out to a Muslim family without getting too dark. Overall it maintains a great balance between serious and light-hearted!

Nishat is a great character; she of course has her particular insecurities and fears but there's also a kind of rock solid core of confidence to her. She can also be quite self-centered, though, which I found to be a really interesting flaw, and a tad reserved and intimidating. I adored Flavia, and honestly, her and Nishat were so, so sweet and cute and I was rooting for them the whole time.

Such a delightful read for the summer and such a great read for teens! This should definitely be made into one of those Channel 4 shows alongside Derry Girls.
Was this review helpful?
If you have read the blurb of this beauty – then there will be a part that will definitely resonate with you, especially if you are a Desi who has grown up being stuck between the traditional ways of your parents and society; but also has been able to open yourself up by having your thoughts and opinion influenced by the whole wide world through the powers of internet – yes, I am talking to the generation who is living in the finite divide between being open and being true to your own traditions. 

Nishat, our protagonist is a the first generation Bangladeshi Muslim living in Ireland, a predominantly white and Catholic community – they are a minority community and face a discrimination that, no matter how subtle still makes Nishat and her sister Priti feel uncomfortable in their own skin and identity. 

The fact that Nishat is homosexual is open to the readers right from the get go, from Nishat admiring a girl she had a crush on as a pre – schooler, though she admits she didn’t exactly know it was a crush then, at a Bengali wedding of her cousin  – we also read about Nishat’s conviction to come out to her parents – a fact that took a lot of courage, especially considering the way it turns out at first – for a proud Muslim family, this is something that is abominable and Nishat’s understanding that though she is firm in her own sexuality; it breaks her heart to see her parent’s acting like she doesn’t matter, that “this” will bring shame to their family. Just saying, IT IS hard to change a whole way of thinking, but do know that a parent’s love can surpass any hurdle. 

The book, however, is all about a business competition being held in Nishat’s school. Nishat’s idea of opening a henna business, the art of henna being passed down to her, not just within her culture; but also in her family, by her own grandmother – is something that she knows she can actually be good at! 

But when her crush, Flavia uses the same idea for the competition – she sees it as a betrayal and stealing of her culture. The icing on the cake? Flavia’s business parner is none other than Chyna, a white girl who is not just racist but is also a bully to Nishat! Along with this, Nishat also has to handle the fact that she has been outed via “text message”to the whole school – a catholic all – girl school, which has quite the effect on her mental health! 

The Henna Wars was nothing short of stupendous – as a Desi reader, it was easy to see reflection of my own culture within the book – Nishat’s culture, so close to my own, felt coming home within the pages of the book. The sensitive way that the author has handled the issues of homophobia, racism and the cultural appropriation is commendable (yes, I had a couple of issues, but they were not major ones in  the whole scheme of things)– and it is a book that is recommended to EVERYONE!
Was this review helpful?
“White people like to pretend that race is only as deep as the colour of our skin- maybe because the colour of their skin gets them so many benefits.
But race is so much more than that. Good things and bad things. And when you’re Brown or Black, it shapes you in life.”  
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jagridar is a book that is ought be read by everyone, there I said it! The book encompasses themes that include : LGBTQIA+ representation with Bangladeshi-Irish & Lesbian Muslim MC and a Brazilian-Irish & Bisexual MC , a brilliant South-east Asian rep that made my desi-heart flutter, bullying and ofcourse important discussions regarding cultural appropriation and coming out in a desi (quite) conservational household.
From the get go, I fell in love with Nishat and Priti and their bonding. I have got to admit, everytime I read a novel that features siblings as a part of the story, I quite miss the emotions and the bonding because trust me there is just a whole potential there!! And I am quite glad and happy to say that JAGRIDAR just swept my heart away with the bond she potrayed between  the two sisters. From being each other’s support system to pulling the other one out through every and any mess the other gets into, both Nishat and Priti are the epitome of desi sisters!
South-Asian parents are often perceived as guarded and rightly so, the novel talks about it in an eloquent and distinct way but it not only restricts itself to it. Nishat’s parents although quite conservational, doesn’t hold back their love for their eldest even though their choices and values clash and eventually they understand! The parents go through their own journey from reluctance to acceptance clouded by societal norms and “what would people think” attitude!
I personally wasn’t a fan of Flavia’s character and that maybe due to the the fact that we get to experience the story through Nishat’s eyes and also that I could resonate with her because of her being a desi! Flavia and Nishat’s relationship definitely went through a lot in a brief span of the story from them being : childhood friends to Flavia being Nishat’s crush to them being classmates to business rivals and lovers and I loved every aspect of it!
After reading the HENNA WARS, I felt deeply saddened that I haven’t come across more books that even though donot hold cultural appropriation at its core, atleast talks about it and I’d gladly devour stories alike at one go! 
All in all, an amazing story that would hold a place forever in my heart!
Was this review helpful?