Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating

Page Street. May 2021. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781645672579.
Gr 9 Up–Despite being the only two Bengali students in their Irish high school, popular, unassuming Hani and intimidating, ambitious Ishu are barely more than passing acquaintances. But when Hani needs to convince her friends of her bisexuality and Ishu needs to stir up votes for Head Girl, they strike a deal. This book is charming and packed with rich and nuanced depictions of Desi culture (Ishu and Hani’s families are significantly different despite their shared heritage). Whether drawn by the classic romance trope or the diverse representation, readers will appreciate how genuine Hani and Ishu’s growing affection feels. Each girl is easy to cheer for as her relationship becomes a tool for escaping the toxic patterns she was immersed in alone. Jaigirdar tactfully weaves universal teen struggles like gossip and jealousy with issues of biphobia, racist microaggressions, and Islamophobia. Some Irish references may be unfamiliar to American readers, but don’t weigh down the text.
VERDICT A sweet queer romance with outstanding Desi representation. Recommended for all collections.

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