The Henna Wars

Henna Wars cover
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

by Adiba Jaigirdar

Published by Page Street Books, 2020
389 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62414-968-9

Age 12 and older

Nishat is thrilled to see new student Flávia at her Catholic girls’ school in Dublin. They met at the wedding of Nishat’s cousin, and Nishat was immediately smitten. Like Nishat, Flávia is dark-skinned (her father white, her mother Afro-Brazilian), and the two stand out among their many white Irish classmates. At home, Nishat recently came out to her conservative parents, who emigrated from Bangladesh to Ireland; they don’t want her to bring shame on the family by being gay. At school, Nishat learns Flávia is the cousin of Chyna, who has made Nishat’s life a living hell of micro-aggressions and exclusion. Nishat’s interest in Flávia is further complicated when Nishat starts a Mehndi business for a class project and Flávia and Chyna do the same. For Nishat, the elaborate henna drawings she makes on customers’ hands are an important part of her cultural tradition. She’s upset that Flávia and Chyna think it’s ok to appropriate what they only see as pretty decorations, which Flávia learned about at the Bangladeshi wedding. Nishat and Flávia are fierce competitors even as their attraction intensifies, and Nishat can’t help but question whether Flávia’s feelings are genuine when both are willing to do whatever it takes to win, including sabotage and retribution. This unusual, compelling teen romance draws readers in with fully developed characters navigating queer politics, race, and culture. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center