Title: Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating (review copy)
Author: Adiba Jaigirdar
Genre: YA Contemporary, Romantic Drama
Blurb from Goodreads
Everyone likes Humaira “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 invalidate her identity, saying 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 absolutely hate—Ishita “Ishu” Dey.
Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college.
But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.
Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after.
- Homophobia specifically biphobia and lesbophobia
- Toxic friendship
- Parental abandonment
Okay. Hello. I loved this book! It was just *chef’s kiss*
There was sass, sadness, joy. There was heartfelt emotion, cuteness, awkwardness … just gave me all of the feels I could ever have hoped for.
The story follows two teenage Bengali Muslim girls. Ishu’s family is originally from India and Hani’s from Bangladesh, but both sets of families have long since moved to Ireland in the hopes of better opportunities for themselves.
And it’s worked out in many ways but racism and Islamophobia is ever present. Initially it’s sort of under the surface; there are a whole lot of micro aggressions happening in this book that at first Hani in particular doesn’t realise, or maybe more accurately just doesn’t want to acknowledge.
My heart ached for Hani. I loved Ishu more as a character because I just identify with her personality a little more, but oof my poor, sweet Hani; I just wanted to shake her sometimes. Because she was in so much denial about how she was being treated by her so called friends. I HATED Aisling… oh if I had her I’d want to slap her with the 46A!!!!! (It’s a bus that stops outside UCD where the author attended as an undergrad so I feel she’d appreciate the reference!) But ugh… Aisling as just the type of friend that you somehow have this loyalty towards because you’ve been besties since you were knee high to a grasshopper, and yet they’re a total toxic cesspool of meanness, vindictiveness, selfishness… I COULD GO ON! But I think a lot of readers will identify with the themes of having toxic friends who don’t really care about you as a person, but are instead entirely self serving and only ever want the spotlight to be on them.
Things sort of come to a head with Hani and her friends when Hani reveals that she’s bisexual and well… that goes down like a lead balloon with her besties. Oh the biphobia is real. There’s comments like well how can you be bi if you’ve never kissed a girl etc etc etc… horrible stuff!
But Hani, in either a moment of sheer genius or utter desperation, tells her friends that she has a girlfriend…. and out of nowhere tells them this girlfriend is Ishu. Ishu who she isn’t even friends with. Ishu who pretty much no one is friends with…
So somehow Hani has to convince Ishu to fake date her and well… high jinx, friendship drama, family drama ensue…. but there’s also a whole lot of gentle softness between Hani and Ishu and I love to see it. These girls have my heart forever.
On Ishu’s side of the storyline there’s a truly heartbreaking plot about family duty re what’s expected of you versus striving for your own dreams, and figuring out what those dreams actually are… and just whelp, it’s so sad and bittersweet and sad again… just fantastically written.
Overall this was just a perfect read. An engaging storyline that was effortlessly diverse, inclusive, and felt truly authentic. The character arcs for both Hani and Ishu were brilliantly nuanced and satisfying. The romance aspect was just so soft and sweet; if you love delicate slow burn reads this is for you.
Loved, loved, loved it!
Highly recommended to fans of contemporary YA novels, especially to those readers that are used to reading American and/or U.K. set novels because it’s an absolute breath of fresh air to see the interesting impact that an Irish setting and dynamic can have on a contemporary YA novel.
*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*
Publishing 27th May 2021, Hodder Children’s Books