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  • Monika Satote

Queer Literature: The Henna Wars By Adiba Jaigirdar : South Asian Representation

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Nishat sees one of her family friends' daughters, Sunny getting engaged and how happy everyone around is, especially her parents. They look at Sunny with bright eyes imagining their Nishat will get married to a charming prince. She can see her parents imagining her future, and hence decides to come out to them. It's not easy for her Bangladeshi parents to process her lesbian identity. Nishat gets a strange silence from them, the silence that makes her feel excluded and unsettled. Her parents start treating her differently, not badly, but differently. But her sister, Priti assures her that she will be with her no matter what.

A few days later, Nishat meets her old Brazilian schoolmate Flàvia at Sunny’s wedding and that changes everything in her life. She instantly begins to feel something for Flàvia and what makes her happy is that Flàvia is now shifted to Dublin & will join the school with her. Her joy does not last long. When the year starts, their teacher declares a business competition for a course. Coincidentally, Nishat and Flàvia came up with the same concept i.e. henna design. And then the henna war commences, the war that leads to heartbreaks and betrayals. Amid this, Nishat also deals with racism and homophobia at her school and business competition. With all this, will Flàvia and Nishat ever get together? Will Nishat's parents accept her? And who will win the war?

I don't read YA books usually. I have my reasons. But this book really attracted me towards it, especially it's cover and the title. It was fun and cute to read but I also appreciate that this tackles a lot of important issues like cultural appropriation, homophobia, racism, bullying etc. The characters are strong and you see the main character growing so gracefully. Nishat's relationship with everyone in her life takes a lot of shifts in this book and it is plotted so beautifully. Even though romance seems to be the main genre of it, I loved how every other relationship plays an important role in this book. Also, it is necessary to mention that this book celebrates the love for one's culture. This book has a lot of desiness.

Overall, I absolutely adored this book. It was honestly unputdownable after a point because there is some thrill in the story. Please read this one if you are looking for a queer book with strong south Asian representation. I highly recommend.

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