Book review | Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Author: Adiba Jaigirdar
Genre: Young Adult romance, LGBTQ rep
No. of pages: 352
Published by: Page Street Kids
Published on: 21st May 2021
My rating: ★★★★☆
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.
Ishita Dey aka Ishu has only one goal— to become the Head Girl of her school and prove it to her parents that she's better than her older sister. But it's hard to become one when you're the unpopular high-achiever in school who only studies and has no interest in making friends. When popular girl Humaira aka Hani offers Ishu to be her fake girlfriend so that she can prove it to her friends about being bisexual, Ishu takes it as an opportunity to become popular through Hani and thus become Head Girl.
Adiba Jaigirdar's second book does it again! No one does sappy yet strong sapphic YA fiction with Bengali MCs better than her. This is weirdly specific but it's true. The first half of the book didn't make me feel anything. Our protagonists got into the fake dating relationship quite easily, which had me thinking, is it that easy? But the second half of the book was like a ride up a hill. While I was making predictions about what the ending would be like, I got totally thrown off. It had me feeling frustrated at Hani. Ever felt like going inside the book and shaking the protagonist to make them see where they are going wrong? This book will totally make you feel like that. My frustrations were so strong while reading the book that I was eye-rolling the entire time. And damn... that's exactly how you write a good book!
The book does not only deal with unaccepting parents and sibling rivalry, but also with biphobia. It's so real and very much exists in real life, and this book perfectly portrays that.
The Bengali representation was quite good I would say. But one of the protagonist is an Indian Bengali and the other is a Bangladeshi Bengali and so some of the things that the Indian Bengali MC, Ishu, said made me a bit confused because we don't talk in that certain way as her. Otherwise it was perfect.
And oh... we have the sunshine x grumpy trope here which was just so adorable to read about. Ishu is the perfect grumpy high-achiever I could ever ask for and Hani was the sunshine who was almost blind to her best friends being hypocrites (which made me so mad at her not gonna lie). Ishu going so awkward and flabbergasted on seeing a pretty Hani and Hani refusing to acknowledge her growing feelings for Ishu was so damn adorable. Also I loved Ishu's sister and Hani's parents because they were oh so sweet. I loved how the author gives us one set of parents who are unaccepting and one set who are wholesomely accepting.
Go read Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating and have your hearts melted.
Adiba Jaigirdar is a Bangladeshi and Irish writer and teacher and the author of The Henna Wars, which Kirkus called “impossible to put down.” She is also a contributor for Book Riot. She lives in Dublin, Ireland.
I received a copy of the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.