Book Review: The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar – A Soft Yet Powerful YA Contemporary Featuring an F/F Romance that Battles Discrimination and Celebrates the Art of Henna

The Henna Wars, by Adiba Jaigirdar. Reviewed by Joce, (at) The Quiet Pond.

Summary:

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.

Joce’s review:

When CW told me that we were going to have Adiba Jaigirdar visiting the Pond, I was overjoyed because I am just so… moved by The Henna Wars. It is a young adult contemporary novel featuring an F/F romance, and also has its roots firmly planted in destroying homophobia, racism, bullying, and cultural appropriation. After I was done reading, I sat on the couch filled with warm, fuzzy feelings, but also feeling empowered to get this book in the hands of younger readers everywhere.

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Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with Adiba Jaigirdar, Author of The Henna Wars; On The Intersections of Queer & Muslim Identity, and Cultural Appreciation versus Appropriation

Our Friend is Here: Asian Heritage Month Edition. Author Interview with Adiba Jaigirdar, author of The Henna Wars; on the intersections of queer and muslim identity, and cultural appropriation and appreciation. illustration shows xiaolong the axolotl, her arms out wide as if she is showing off something, with adiba has a hijabi duckling wearing a red backpack, waving at you.

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

When Adiba reached out to me and invited me to participate in her virtual launch for The Henna Wars, I was over the moon. I’ve been buzzing with excitement for Adiba’s debut, The Henna Wars and I’m delighted that it releases today. Although I couldn’t contribute by hosting a live chat, I knew I absolutely had to invite Adiba to the Pond again following her previous visit alongside the contributing authors of the Keep Faith anthology!

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Guest Feature: Exploring Queer Identity & Faith – The Authors of KEEP FAITH Talk About What Their Stories Mean To Them

Keep Faith: A Queer Anthology banner, with Xiaolong the axolotl reading Keep Faith.

Xiaolong may be taking a little break from all her magical duties at the Pond, but you do occasionally like to visit her at the Pond and sit next to her for some quiet reading time.

But today, it doesn’t look like ‘quiet reading time’ is going to happen. Rather, the Pond feels very loud.

You hear laughter and the soft buzz of camaraderie by the Pond. As you approach, you see that the Pond is filled with a lot of Xiaolong’s visiting friends! There’s an octopus in the Pond itself, an intersex flag in eir’s arms, a gray and white narwhal sipping some boba while chatting to a gray tabby wearing a black and white shirt, and a beautiful and terrifying gumiho who stares at you as you enter. And over there, by Xiaolong’s favourite reading spot, is a mer-cat laughing with a little hijabi duckling and an ice-blue fox while a shiba inu dances, little bells tinkling at their ankles. And off to your left is a brown eagle owl reading their book, while a toucan preens its feathers, and a pink dolphin and and pink otter swim carefree in the Pond.

xl keep faith.png“Hi friend!” Xiaolong is at your feet, smiling at you. “I invited some of my friends to come visit the Pond because a book they created with writing-magic releases today!”

Created a book together? That sounds so wholesome! You ask her about this book and her friends.

She gives you a big grin. “Why don’t I introduce you to them?”

Friends, The Quiet Pond may still be on hiatus, but when I found out about the Keep Faith anthology, I knew that I wanted to feature this anthology and its incredible authors. So I emailed Gabriela, the editor of Keep Faith, and we invited all of the writers to be visitors at The Quiet Pond.

Therefore, I am so incredibly excited to be featuring Keep Faith edited by Gabriela Martins today. We have fourteen friends visiting the Pond today, and I could not be more excited to share with you a little bit more about the stories in Keep Faith and what the stories mean to them. Read More »