Just ahead of its publication date, today I wanted to share my thoughts on Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar. Thank you so much to Team BKMRK for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Publication Date: 27th May
TW: racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, biphobia, lesbophobia, bullying, toxic friendship, gaslighting and parental abandonment
Adiba Jairgirdar’s books are just like rays of sunshine. They have this special quality to them that just makes your heart glow and sparkle. Seeing representation like this on the shelves makes me feel so happy and I know her work is going to change so many lives.
Jaigirdar’s work always hits that sweet spot between softly adorable romance and poignant exploration of familial and societal issues. This was a book that filled my heart with joy, but also slowly crushed it at points. It really delves into issues about cultural clashes, pressurising expectations and toxic relationships with both friends and family. The dialogue around the biphobia and how it is unpacked on page really hit home for me.
Adiba tackles issues that are extremely relevant in a nuanced and accessible way in a way that just means that so many people will see themselves reflected on the page. She never patronises her teenage readers, instead treating them with the respect they deserve. I loved how this contemporary was full of adorable romance, but also doesn’t shy away from tackling tough issues. The complexity of these issues is addressed, with an ending that isn’t completely happy because life is never that straight-forward. There’s hope and joy left on the page though.
Every page is filled with chemistry, character and heart. Adiba creates these three-dimensional characters that you cannot help but fall in love with. Both Hani and Ishu are not perfect, but they’re just trying. I loved the use of the fake dating dynamic and the grumpy and sunshine romance combination. Their dialogue made me laugh out loud and it was just sparkling. The chemistry is also crackling between them, with their relationship dynamic believably growing on page. You just want everything to work out for these two amazing girls.
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating is a heart-warming, romantic and sweet contemporary novel that also delves into tough topics through a realistic and complex lens. It just re-affirms that Adiba is an auto-buy author for me.