Sunday, 20 June 2021

Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Published by Hachette Children's Group on the 27th May 2021.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hani and Ishu couldn't be less alike - and they definitely don't like each other. But when fates collide and they pretend to date each other, things start to get messy... A heart-warming queer YA love story for fans of Becky Albertalli.

Everyone likes Hani Khan - she's easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they don't believe her, claiming she can't be bi if she's only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she's in a relationship... with a girl her friends can't stand - Ishu Dey.

Ishu is the polar opposite of Hani. An academic overachiever, she hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for university. Her only problem? Becoming head girl is a popularity contest and Ishu is hardly popular. Pretending to date Hani is the only way she'll stand a chance of being elected.

Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after.

I don't have many authors whose books I would grab just on the strength of their name without at least checking out the synopsis, but on the strength of The Henna Wars and now Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating I am delighted to add Adiba Jaigirdar's name to that very short list. I absolutely loved spending time with Hani, Ishu, their families and friends, and was completely enthralled by this novel from start to finish. I admit that, as a young adult romance, it doesn't tick any of my usual genre boxes, but Jaigirdar has such a talent for incorporating deep themes into ostensibly light stories without either dragging down the tone and pace of her work or doing any disservice to the issues her characters must navigate.

Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating includes probably the best depiction of a toxic friendship that I have ever read. It also delves into homophobia, Islamophobia, and dysfunctional intergenerational relationships, all while telling an adorably romantic tale of first love. Jaigirdar also deftly shows readers Bengali culture and Dublin culture, especially their intersections. I came away from this book feeling as though I learned a lot, yet didn't recall any moments of feeling I was  being taught! Over everything though I fell in love with Hani and Ishu's relationship even before they could see for themselves where their hearts were taking them. A charming, thought-provoking romance novel with all the feels!

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Adiba Jaigirdar / Young adult fiction / Books from Bangladesh

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