Today I am so pleased to be able to feature a guest post from Adiba Jaigirdar, author of The Henna Wars! I finished The Henna Wars and immediately write Adiba asking if there was anything I could do to help promote it! Together we came up with this guest post idea and I am so excited! I’ll stop talking and let Adiba take it away!
The Henna Wars
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.
Adiba’s Favorite Reads by Asian Authors
The first book I read by an Asian author was when I was already into my late teens. It was a historical novel about the internment of Japanese-Americans in the USA during World War II, and it was very tragic. At the time when I was a teenager, those were the only books about Asian people I could find in my libraries—and they were still very few and far in-between. It’s been about a decade since I read that book, and in that decade a lot has clearly changed because now, there are so many books by—and about—Asians populating my local library, bookshops, and my own bookshelf. And the books offer so much variety! They’re about love and adventure, and everything in-between. I definitely feel really happy and grateful for that! So, here are some of my favourites:
Love From A To Z by S. K. Ali
I’m really obsessed with basically anything S. K. Ali writes! Love From A To Z is about two very different Muslim kids who are grappling with difficult things, but they find their way to each other. It’s an amazing love story! But my favourite thing about it is the character Zayneb. As a visibly Muslim teen, she faces a lot of Islamophobia in the world, and often in the book she’s quite angry. She reminded me so much of who I was as a teenager, and I loved the ways in which she dealt with her anger and how she learned to navigate it!
Lili intruding for a moment, I adored Love from A to Z and was on the street team for it and needed to give it some extra love! Check out my review if you want some more incentive to read!
The Light At The Bottom Of The World by London Shah
This book is such wonderful escapist fiction! I remember picking it up and finding it so difficult to put it down. Set in an underwater London in the future, The Light At The Bottom Of The World follows a racer Leila McQueen as she tries to find her father who disappeared off the grid after being unfairly arrested. I think this book is one of the first times I’ve read a Muslim in science-fiction, and I just love reading books where marginalised teens get to have exciting adventures!
Also Lili intruding, I loved Light at the Bottom of the World and you should definitely check my review out for why I also loved it!
From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon
I’m a huge fan of basically anything Sandhya Menon writes, but From Twinke, With Love is definitely my favourite book by her! It follows Twinkle, an aspiring filmmaker as she directs a film with her classmate Sahil. Though she has a crush on Sahil’s brother, she thinks maybe…she’s also falling for Sahil? Twinkle is such a sweet book, and I absolutely love Twinkle as a character. She’s really messy and she makes so many bad decisions in the book! She really creates a whole mess and pisses off a lot of people. I love that! It’s rare that we get brown girls in fiction who are allowed to be messy and make bad decisions, and learn and grow from all of those things.
Another love from Lili! Give me all the Sandhya Menon books!
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
The Gauntlet is the first time I read a traditionally published book with a Bangladeshi character so it holds a very special place in my heart! I think it’s the first traditionally published book with a Bangladeshi character, which is both…wonderful and a little sad, ha. The Gauntlet is about 12-year-old Farah who accidentally gets sucked into a board game with her brother and friends. They have to defeat the architect if they ever want to get out of the game. This is such a fun book, and it has so many wonderful nods to Muslim and Bangladeshi culture, which I adore.
This one is on my TBR!
The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta
The Serpent’s Secret is about Kiranmala who—on her twelfth birthday—finds out that she’s a secret Indian princess, and she needs to travel to a magical dimension in order to rescue her parents from the serpent king! This is another super fun book. What I love about it is how completely Bengali it is. It’s based off of stories from a Bengali folk tales collection called Thakurmar jhuli. I grew up reading and watching Thakurmar jhuli stories, learning about rakkhosh, khokkosh, bhutni, petni…and so many other Bengali monsters and magical beings. It was so wonderful to read this interpretation of all of those familiar stories from my childhood.
I listened to this on audio and loved it! For audiobooks I don’t always review it on my blog, but it’s always on my goodreads!
Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged is about Pakistani-British Muslim Sofia who has to write a book about Muslim dating for work, which leads her to all kinds of shenanigans! This is honestly one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I remember I had such a fun time reading it, and so much of it felt very familiar, both as a South Asian and as a Muslim. I love Sofia’s take on Muslim dating, and all her troubles with finding love. I also adore the way the book looks into the importance of family, community, and love (all types of love, not simply romantic love)!
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
This book is honestly such an escapist read for me. It also really motivated me to write The Henna Wars! I love so much about this book: the fake dating trope is one of favourites of all times, and I love the way this book handles it. I also love Lara Jean’s relationships with both of her sisters, Margot and Kitty. It’s portrayed so honestly and realistically. This book is so light and sweet, and I remember reading it in a single sitting because I just couldn’t get enough!
About the Author
Adiba Jaigirdar was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and has been living in Dublin, Ireland from the age of ten. She has a BA in English and History, and an MA in Postcolonial Studies. She is a contributor for Bookriot. All of her writing is aided by tea, and a healthy dose of Janelle Monáe and Hayley Kiyoko. When not writing, she can be found ranting about the ills of colonialism, playing video games, and expanding her overflowing lipstick collection. She can be found at adibajaigirdar.com or @adiba_j on Twitter and @dibs_j on Instagram.