Review of The Henna Wars

The Henna Wars
by Adiba Jaigirdar
Middle School, High School    Page Street    400 pp.    g
5/20    978-1-62414-968-9    $17.99

Nishat is a Bengali Muslim teen attending a conservative Catholic school in Dublin. When she comes out as lesbian to her parents, she is met with near-silence. Meanwhile, Nishat creates a henna business for a school competition, and her longtime crush Flávia (an Afro-Brazilian Irish classmate) complicates things by creating a rival business. As the competition heats up, so do the young women’s feelings for each other. Their will-they-or-won’t-they? romance will keep readers engrossed. Jaigirdar’s debut novel features realistically complex queer girls of color at its center and honestly addresses the conflicts they face as such — micro- and macro-agressions, hitting up against family traditions while trying to pursue one’s own desires and wants — though always standing in Nishat’s corner is her supportive sister Priti, who offers the approval the protagonist longs for from her family. All major conflicts are tied up, and probably most touching of all is the hopeful understanding that Nishat and her family reach.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shelley M. Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz is reviews editor of School Library Journal.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more


We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing